Just when the Congress appears to have weathered the political storm in Punjab, it seems to be heading for turbulence in Uttarakhand where elections are due in a couple of months. On Wednesday, the party’s campaign chief and former chief minister Harish Rawat hinted at dissatisfaction with the organisation and even retirement from politics.
In a Facebook post and a series of tweets from his official Twitter account, Rawat said “power” has “left several crocodiles” in the “ocean of elections”, representatives of those on whose orders he is swimming are tying his hands, and that “it is time to rest”.
However, speaking to reporters at a press conference later, he refused to elaborate on his posts. Sources close to Rawat told The Indian Express that he is unhappy with the style of functioning of AICC state in charge Devender Yadav and suspects an attempt to sideline him. Tension between Rawat and Yadav had been brewing for a while, the sources said.
Taking to social media, Rawat posted: “Hai na ajeeb si baat, chunav rupi samudra ko tairna hai, sahyog ke liye sangthan ka dhancha adhikansh sthanon par sahyog ka haath aage badhne ke bajay ya toh muh pher karke khada ho ja raha hai ya nakaratmak bhumika nibha raha hai. Jis samudra mein tairna hai satta ne wahan kayi magarmachh chhor rakhe hain.”
(“It is strange, isn’t it, I have to swim in the ocean of elections. Instead of stretching its arms for help, the organisational structure is either ignoring me or playing a negative role. The leadership has left several crocodiles in the ocean where I have to swim”).
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
Another post read: “Jinke aadesh pe tairna hai, unke numainde mere haath-paanv bandh rahe hain. Mann mein bahut baar vichar aa raha ke Harish Rawat ab bahut ho gaya, bahut tair liye, ab vishram ka samay hai. Phir chupke se mann ke ek kone se awaaz uth rahi hai ‘na dainyam na palayanam’ badi upapoh ki sthiti mein hun. Naya varsh shayad raasta dikha de. Mujhe vishwas hai ke Bhagwan Kedarnath ji is sthiti me mera margdarshan karenge.”
(“The representatives of those on whose orders I have to swim are tying up my hands and feet. On several occasions, it comes to my mind that I have swum enough and it is time to rest. Then another voice rises, asking me to never be helpless and never run away. I am in a dilemma. May the new year show me my path. I am sure that Bhagwan Kedarnath will show me the way.”)
At the press conference, Rawat (73) said he would talk about the posts later. “The press conference today is on the issue of employment in the state and how the unemployed are in pain. The things I have said in tweets, I will talk on that some other time,” he said.
Yadav did not respond to calls and texts from The Indian Express seeking comment.
But sources close to Rawat alleged that Yadav is creating hurdles in the Congress’s election campaign. “The duty of the AICC in charge is to ensure coordination between various leaders. But there is a perception that Yadav himself is becoming the party. There is a very serious conspiracy against the Congress and Rawat. The BJP is hatching this conspiracy to ensure that the Congress does not come back to power,” a leader close to Rawat told The Indian Express.
Another leader claimed that Rawat’s posters and cut outs were “purposely” removed from “main spots” on the eve of Rahul Gandhi’s public meeting earlier this week. “The in-charge did not take cognizance of it. Even small things like distribution of flags and passes were done by Yadav’s people,” he said.
Yadav, a leader alleged, had also spoken against those who took part in the agitation for statehood for Uttarakhand.
The Congress in Uttarakhand has long been troubled by factionalism, and has not yet projected a CM face for the elections next year. Many state leaders privately admit that the party may bank on Rawat this time. The Congress High Command had earlier entrusted the senior leader with the difficult task of resolving the intense infighting in Punjab, which resulted in the ouster of Amarinder Singh as CM.
Recently, Congress organisation general secretary Mathura Dutt Joshi had hailed Rawat’ as “a very popular leader in the state”.