The BJP announced candidates for 64 of the 70 Assembly seats in the state.
New Delhi: Raging infighting in the Congress has put the party on the backfoot in Uttarakhand, and at this juncture it’s advantage BJP.
The fight between state chief minister Harish Rawat and state unit president Kishore Upadhyaya is likely to derail the party further in the state which votes on February 14.
Following its own Assam precedent, the Congress high command yet again threw its weight behind the chief minister, claiming that he remained the party’s “tallest leader” in the state.
In Assam, despite the writing on the wall and falling popularity of the then chief minister, Tarun Gogoi, the Congress high command had refused to go for a change of guard.
While the BJP announced candidates for 64 of the 70 Assembly seats in the state on Monday, the Congress has not yet been able to come out with its list. Elections in the state are to be held on February 14.
In a span of one year, 11 of 34 Congress MLAs have switched over to the BJP. The 11 Congress rebels made it to the BJP’s first list of candidates, including former state Congress chief Yashpal Arya and his son Sanjeev Arya.
Resentment against chief minister Rawat has been brewing in the state unit for long. Mr Rawat’s style of functioning was being questioned and dissidents have accused him of running the party in an “autocratic” manner. “The Congress in Uttarakhand has become Harish Rawat Congress,” a senior Congress functionary alleged.
Defection of Congress leaders is going to hit the party hard.
Rajputs and Brahmins are the predominant voters in the hilly areas of Kumaon and Garhwal, while the Tarai region has a sizeable minority and dalit population. With Yashpal Arya (of Tarai region) switching over to the BJP, the Congress now lacks a credible dalit face.
As for the Brahmin face in Garhwal, state Congress chief Kishore Upadhayay is engaged in a turf war with the chief minister.
“A sabotage cannot be ruled out,” the Congress functionary said.
Congress could do well in the Rajput-dominated Kumaon as the chief minister belongs to the Rajput community. The party is expected to fare poorly in both Garwal and Tarai region. Trouble between the chief minister and the state Congress chief erupted immediately after the former won the trust vote in June 2016. It was alleged that the chief minister “scuttled” Mr Upadhayay’s chance of getting nominated to the Rajya Sabha and pushed forward his “close associate” Pradeep Tamta.
There have been several attempts by the party high command to sort out differences between the two.