After Punjab, hope for a Dalit CM in Uttarakhand too, says Harish Rawat
Former chief minister of Uttarakhand and Congress general secretary Harish Rawat has said that he “wants to see a Dalit CM in Uttarakhand also.” Rawat’s comment on Monday assumes significance as the party has appointed Charanjit Singh Channi as the first Dalit Sikh chief minister of Punjab.
Rawat made the statement while addressing a public meeting during the party’s Parivartan Yatra in Laksar constituency of Haridwar.
Rawat played a major role in ending the crisis in Punjab, a state that holds the charge. Also, Uttarakhand has 18% Dalit voters with the majority of them in Haridwar district where he made the statement on Monday.
Rawat returned to Uttarakhand on Monday to join the concluding day of the second leg of Parivartan Yatra in Haridwar along with party state president Ganesh Godiyal, party state in-charge Devendra Yadav and leader of Opposition Pritam Singh.
“History has been made in Punjab as Congress leadership under party national president Sonia Gandhi, a son of Dalit has been appointed the CM. I want to pray to the almighty to let me witness a Dalit becoming the CM of Uttarakhand in my lifetime,” he said.
With the statement coming months before the next assembly elections, political analysts say Rawat “hit two birds with a stone.”
“Rawat has played his cards cleverly. Firstly, he has tried to gain the support of the Dalits for the Congress with his statement. Secondly, being the senior-most leader in Uttarakhand Congress, he is obviously wanting to become the CM if the party wins. But if he fails, then he has indicated that he won’t allow any of his rivals in the party to become the CM but only a Dalit face...right now it is his loyalist Pradeep Tamta,” said senior political commentator Jai Singh Rawat.
Another political analyst, MM Semwal, agreed and said, “With the Punjab development still fresh, Rawat tried to take advantage of it in Uttarakhand. Though he is thanking party national president Sonia Gandhi for it, he also played a major role in it while being the state unit’s in-charge. So by playing that card, he tried to portray himself as the messiah of Dalits in Uttarakhand.”
The BJP meanwhile, called the move as “Congress’ hypocrisy when it comes to Dalits.” Party state president Madan Kaushik said, “By making Channi the Punjab CM months before the assembly elections there, Congress’s Punjab state in-charge has revealed its hypocrisy towards Dalit as he has also declared that the party will contest the assembly polls under Navjot Singh Sidhu. That means Channi’s Dalit face is of importance for them only till the polls.”