‘Not without an apology’: Harish Rawat raises the bar for ex-Congress leaders to return

Oct 13, 2021 07:59 PM IST

Uttarakhand Congress leader Harish Rawat’s statement comes against the backdrop of buzz around state labour minister Harak Singh Rawat’s next move.

Dehradun: Former Congress leaders who crossed over to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2016 and want to return will have to give a public apology before being allowed back to the party, former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat said on Wednesday.

Congress leader and former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat said the only those former Congress leaders and legislators, will be allowed to return the party who apologise for quitting the party. (Ayush Sharma)
Congress leader and former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat said the only those former Congress leaders and legislators, will be allowed to return the party who apologise for quitting the party. (Ayush Sharma)

The senior Congress leader’s assertion comes against the backdrop of speculation that labour minister Harak Singh Rawat could be looking at the possibility of exiting the ruling BJP ahead of Uttarakhand state elections in early 2022. To be sure, Harak Singh Rawat has rebutted suggestions that he was reviewing his options and insisted that he intended to stay in the BJP.

“Those who were involved in the horse-trading episode to bring down my government (in 2016), committed a felony. They won’t be allowed to return unless they offer an apology for their actions in public. That apology should be made to our leaders, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, the Uttarakhand public and even to their gods,” said Harish Rawat, a reference to the nine Congress legislators who crossed over to the BJP in 2016. Labour minister Harak Singh Rawat, a six-time legislator, was among the nine.

Much of the buzz around minister Harak Singh Rawat’s next move started with his unscheduled meeting with Uttarakhand BJP president Madan Kaushik on Tuesday, just a day after the BJP’s Yashpal Arya announced his resignation from Pushkar Singh Dhami-led government and the party. He rejoined the Congress on Monday along with his son Sanjiv, also a legislator.

A video where he is heard vowing not to fight the assembly election fuelled the speculation.

Harak Singh Rawat told reporters in Dehradun that he was not keen on contesting the 2022 assembly elections but stressed that the video, which was being circulated, was from 2012. He didn’t keep his 2012 pledge and did contest the election. “There was some situation during that time that I had to contest. But for the 2022 elections, I am not very much interested in contesting,” he said.

On his meeting with state BJP chief on Tuesday, Harak Singh said he was on his way to Dehradun from Kotdwar when he got a call from Madan Kaushik. The meeting lasted an hour, he said, adding that it was focused on preparations for the upcoming elections. “That’s it,” he said.

Kaushik made the same point and rejected suggestions that it was aimed at mollifying Harak Singh. “There was nothing extraordinary discussed in the meeting. We both have meetings at regular intervals as Rawat is one of our senior leaders in the state. It’s election time and there are many issues to discuss related to it,” he said.

Political observers indicated that they do not take these statements at their face value.

“Definitely all eyes are now on (Harak Singh) Rawat considering the developments in the last few weeks pertaining to him. On many occasions, he has made statements which suggest that despite being a cabinet minister in the BJP government, he is not happy there,” said political commentator Jai Singh Rawat.

Congress general secretary Harish Rawat, who insisted on a public apology by legislators who had rebelled against his leadership, said Yashpal Arya didn’t have to give such an apology because his case was “different”.

“Arya didn’t leave the party with the intention of taking down my government like the others. His reasons were different which were personal with me. His return to the Congress would help to make it stronger,” Harish Rawat explained.

Senior political analyst SMA Kazmi said Harish Rawat will not want Harak Singh to return “as he was one of the main leaders whose defection brought down his government” but his statement has led to a dilemma for the Congress.

“The party leadership will want to welcome him (Harak Singh Rawat) considering that he is a stalwart and his return will definitely boost the organisation...But Harish won’t allow it,” said Kazmi.

He added that both parties are likely to try to get lawmakers and leaders from the other side to defect.

Leader of opposition in the assembly Pritam Singh, who is being credited with engineering Arya’s return to the Congress, said, the “party’s door is open to anyone willing to come.”

“We won’t refuse anyone willing to come to the party. However, we will first analyse their utility in the party. Only then we will welcome them. Of course, it will be done with the approval of the national leadership like in Arya’s case,” Pritam Singh added.


    Kalyan Das covers crime, transport, human rights and central government offices from Bhopal and Indore.

Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, June 01, 2023
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals