Harak Singh meets BJP’s Madan Kaushik amid speculation of his next move
Uttarakhand BJP chief Madan Kaushik insisted that his invite to Harak Singh Rawat wasn’t prompted by the swirling rumours. “We had a meeting to discuss the upcoming polls as he is one of our senior leaders,” Kaushik said.
Dehradun: Uttarakhand minister Harak Singh Rawat on Tuesday met BJP state president Madan Kaushik at his Dehradun residence amid speculation that the minister is considering an offer to return to the Congress, the party he quit in 2017 to join the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The development comes two days after an “ice breaker” telephonic conversation between Harak Singh Rawat and Congress national general secretary Harish Rawat, the former chief minister who was seen to be against Harak Singh Rawats’ return to the Congress. Harish Rawat’s condition that former Congress leaders who want to return to the party must give a public apology was seen in the context of speculation around Harak Singh Rawat’s return.
After their telephonic conversation on Sunday, Harish Rawat toned down the rhetoric, saying “in disasters even animals come together then why not two brothers.” He was reciprocating Harak Singh Rawat’s gesture who had earlier in the day referred to him as his “elder brother” and told reporters his “place is always at his (Harish Rawat) feet.”
The conciliatory tone of the rivals - Harak Singh Rawat’s exit from the Congress had hugely contributed to the collapse of Harish Rawat’s government in 2017 - had triggered concerns in the Uttarakhand BJP that there was a distinct possibility that Harak Singh Rawat could head back to the Congress. This, if he happens, would be the second setback to the party in the hill state that is due to go to the polls next year.
“The leadership is definitely tensed with the development. It is wary of the fact that if Harak Singh decides to return to the BJP then it would be another big blow to it as he is a seven-time MLA and a very influential figure in state politics,” a BJP leader said on condition of anonymity.
Harak Singh is considered to have played a key role in the rebellion of nine Congress MLAs in 2016 who switched to the BJP.
The BJP leader cited above said, “Tuesday’s meeting with Kaushik is clearly an effort by the BJP state leadership to try to stop him from leaving the party amid speculation on the same.”
Meanwhile, a Congress leader claimed that Harak Singh was likely “to join the Congress after Diwali”.
“Now after a truce has been called between him and Harish Rawat, the path to his return to party seems to be clear. He is likely to join the party after Diwali or November 9,” he said.
Harish Rawat fuelled speculation about BJP leaders quitting the party on Tuesday.“We welcome BJP leaders who want to come to Congress as there is an instability in the BJP,” he said on Tuesday.
“We welcome any BJP leader who wants to come here. But having said that, it won’t be possible to accommodate all as we have to protect the rights of our own workers and leaders who have been fighting the BJP in all these years during its rule,” said Rawat.
BJP state president Kaushik countered speculation that Harak Singh could join the Congress. “We had a meeting to discuss the upcoming polls as he is one of our senior leaders,” said Kaushik while refusing to reveal any more details on the meeting. Harak Singh couldn’t be contacted despite repeated attempts.