Dehradun: Infighting within the Congress in Uttarakhand came out in the open Wednesday as former chief minister and party general secretary Harish Rawat hit out at All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary and Uttarakhand in-charge Devendra Yadav and the party’s central leadership, alleging that he is not being allowed to work freely towards preparing for the assembly elections next year.
Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) officials and Rawat supporters have also criticised the state in-charge for what they describe as undue interference in the state leadership’s functioning.
“Power has left several crocodiles in the poll ocean we have to swim. However, representatives of those on whose orders we have to swim are trying to bind my hands and feet. The organisation, instead of extending its hands in support, is either turning its face away or playing a negative role at most places,” wrote Rawat in Facebook and Twitter posts Wednesday, without naming Devendra Yadav.
है न अजीब सी बात, चुनाव रूपी समुद्र को तैरना है, सहयोग के लिए संगठन का ढांचा अधिकांश स्थानों पर सहयोग का हाथ आगे बढ़ाने के बजाय या तो मुंह फेर करके खड़ा हो जा रहा है या नकारात्मक भूमिका निभा रहा है। जिस समुद्र में तैरना है,
— Harish Rawat (@harishrawatcmuk) December 22, 2021
Elaborating further about his predicament, Rawat, who also heads the party election campaign committee, said, “Many a time it occurred to me that enough is enough and it’s time to retire. But then an inner voice from within told me that I should not be afraid or give up. I am reeling under massive ambiguity. May the New Year show us the right path. I am sure lord Kedarnath will guide me.”
When contacted, Yadav’s office informed ThePrint that the Uttarakhand in-charge was not willing to react to Rawat’s allegations at this time. “He knows all that has happened in Uttarakhand, but is currently unwilling to say anything on the issue. You will be informed if he makes any statement,” the office said.
When asked for her response on the matter, AICC Uttarakhand co in-charge Deepika Pandey Singh told ThePrint that she wasn’t aware of the developments and would be able to comment after speaking to leaders in Uttarakhand and senior leaders in Delhi.
Indication of strained relations
Congress leaders in Uttarakhand said Rawat’s Facebook post was a clear indication of the strained relationship between him and Devendra Yadav.
A Rawat loyalist and PCC spokesperson unwilling to be named pointed out that Rawat’s posts clearly raise fingers at the Congress central leadership. He added that Rawat was unhappy with the way things were moving in the party, as his opponents were “grasping every opportunity to let him down and undermine his efforts to bring the party back in power”.
PCC vice-president Prithvipal Chauhan said “Harish Rawat’s statements reflect the fact that things are not well between him and the AICC state in-charge”.
“Currently, the Congress party is leading on popularity, but if strained relations between Rawat and Yadav continue, it will prove detrimental for the party in the 2022 election,” he added.
“It’s a fact that the AICC in-charge is excessively interfering in the working and decisions of the PCC, which will have a demoralising impact on the state leadership and party workers. It must be remembered that the party goes to the polls with the state organisation taking the front stage and Harish Rawat is a face of the election campaign committee,” Chauhan added.
Uttarakhand PCC media adviser and senior party leader Surendra Aggarwal, considered to be a Rawat loyalist, also hit out at Yadav. “There is too much interference by the AICC state in-charge in PCC activities and decisions. What will the PCC leadership do in the state if the AICC in-charge wants to take every power in his hand?” he said.
Uttarakhand Congress leaders said Rawat’s opponents have been trying to tarnish his image and keep him away from party affairs for some time, but the immediate provocation for his Facebook post was Rahul Gandhi’s 16 December rally in Dehradun.
During that rally, the former chief minister was completely ignored by Yadav and the anti-Rawat faction in the Congress, the leaders said.
They added that Yadav snubbed Rawat’s supporters at the rally when they shouted slogans favouring the former CM. Yadav asked the supporters not to glorify Rawat alone, but other leaders as well.
Besides this, Rawat’s supporters alleged that his posters and hoardings were removed from the venue and other parts of the city by workers of the “ruling BJP at the behest of his opponents in the Congress”.
“What was the need for bringing down his hoardings and posters? We understand there are some Congress party members working hand-in-glove with the ruling BJP to defeat the party and Harish Rawat,” said a Congress leader.
“BJP workers tore and brought down Rawat’s posters and hoardings erected for Rahul Gandhi’s rally, but the AICC in-charge failed to take cognisance of this,” the leader added.
(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)