Even as the Congress is running out of time to finalise its candidates in the hill state, the party is still in a state of confusion as to who it wants to field from the Tehri parliamentary constituency. It is, however, likely to nominate fresh faces from Pauri.
A combination picture of Harish Rawat and Vijay Bahuguna
Former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna’s reluctance not to contest from Tehri Lok Sabha constituency and the party’s inability to find suitable candidate for Pauri, has thrown Uttarakhand Congress in a tough spot. Bahuguna, as per sources, has made up his mind to keep himself away from the 2014 elections after exhaustive trips to different assembly segments of Tehri in the past fortnight.
Sources informed that while the former CM is feeling the brunt of acute anti-incumbency against the Congress in Tehri, he wants to ensure the re-nomination of his son Saket Bahuguna from here. In fact, well placed sources in the party have claimed that Bahuguna also wants assurance from central leadership that the latter must keep his detractors under control so that they could not sabotage his election.
Besides the father and son duo, the Congress’ panel of names for nominations from Tehri seat includes state cabinet minister Pritam Singh, former Tehri MLA Kishor Upadhaya and senior party leader Surbir Singh Sajwan.
Sajwan and Upadhaya also have the backing of chief minister Harish Rawat.
On the other hand, the Congress is unable to find a credible face from Pauri after Satpal Maharaj left the Congress and joined the BJP.
The misery was aggravated further as Lt General Gambhir Singh Negi, who was Sonia Gandhi’s choice for replacing Maharaj from Pauri, has also refused to accept the nomination, as he is close to Maharaj.
However, the party is now deliberating over the name of former state forest department chief RBS Rawat for Pauri. Sources informed that Rawat, who retired recently as the state forest department chief, has a clean image and can give a run for his money to BJP candidate and former CM BC Khanduri.
Other names in the Congress list are former state cabinet minister Heera Singh Bisht, Harish Rawat’s close aide from Chamoli Prithvipal Singh Chauhan, former Pauri MP TPS Rawat and statehood agitators Rajendra Shah. Sources in the Congress Delhi and those close to CM Harish Rawat have claimed that one of these names has already been decided by the central leadership, but it may take some time.
Meanwhile, Maharaj has attacked the Congress and stated, “It’s unable to find candidates from Garhwal region as its leaders are shying away from election for fear of Modi wave in the state.”