The ruling Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are grappling to contain potentially damaging rebellions brewing in the two parties ahead of the May 7 parliamentary elections.
The troubles of the opposition BJP — trying to keep up with the central leadership’s hopes of a clean sweep in the five seats — started when a powerful leader and former MP Bacchi Singh Rawat resigned from all party posts on Sunday.
He was apparently miffed over his name not figuring in the list of probable candidates for the Nainital Lok Sabha seat.
Interestingly, Rawat was a member of the state parliamentary board which drew up the list of probable candidates for the five Lok Sabha seats from the state which indicated that the panel acted without his knowledge.
Immediately after Rawat’s resignation, former minister Mohan Singh Gaonwasi -- who is eyeing a ticket from the Pauri constituency -- questioned the parliamentary board’s “decision” to give tickets to former chief ministers.
Sources in the party said that at least three former chief ministers -- Ramesh Pokhriyal from Haridwar, BC Khanduri from Pauri and BS Koshyari from Nainital - are among the claimants for tickets.
According to the sources, Rawat was angry over a move to give the Nainital candidature to Koshyari.
Amidst the rumblings within the party, the BJP leadership is said to be “confused” on how to handle the situation.
State party president Tirath Singh Rawat hinted that the party would act harshly against the “rebels” once the ticket distribution process is over.
On the other hand, former MLA and convenor of BJP in Garhwal region Mahendra Bhatt said “genuine voices” should be heard.
“Bacchi Singh Rawat has served the party for long…The party should control those who are making unwarranted statements,” said Bhatt.
On the other side of the political spectrum, the Congress was fighting its own internal battle.
Former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, recently sent packing by the high command for “non-performance”, has already upped the ante against his successor Harish Rawat and other leaders in the chief minister’s camp. However, Bahuguna himself is salvos from a section of leaders for his outbursts. The buzz is that Bahuguna or his son will contest ticket from Tehri.
Former MLA Kedar Singh Rawat last week opposed Bahuguna when he was in Uttarkashi.
In Nainital parliamentary constituency, among the Congress ticket-seekers is veteran ND Tiwari, who may even engineer a split among Congress cadres if denied the candidature, party sources said.
Tiwari, who settled his long-drawn paternity case with his biological son recently, is scheduled to tour the constituency from March 21.
In Pauri, sitting MP Satpal Maharaj’s supporters are “worried” by what they termed as anti-party activities by a section of Congress leaders and workers.
Party spokesperson Dhirendra Pratap, however, warned rebels of action if they went too far. “Difference of opinion is not unusual but making statements in public is not acceptable. We will take action against such leaders,” he said.