Lord Krishna pardoned 100 mistakes of his cousin Shishupala, forewarned him and then pulled out the Sudarshan Chakra. This seems an apt parallel of how the BJP ran out of patience with the tantrums of its minister Harak Singh Rawat in Uttarakhand and finally sacked him on Sunday night, anticipating his return to the Congress.
This culminated a nearly month-long drama in Dehradun in which Harak kept throwing his weight around and sulking as attempts were made right from the top to placate him. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami met him over lunch to agree to his demand for a medical college in his constituency, Kotdwar, after he threatened to quit. Harak occupied a place of prominence on the stage during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public rally on December 30. But Harak’s tantrums in seeking three tickets for his family, including his daughter-in-law Anukriti, and ‘secret’ meetings with the Congress leaders in Delhi got the BJP’s goat.
For Harak, the dream of becoming the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand in the BJP seemed remote. The highly-ambitious politician fancied his chances when BJP removed his bête noire Trivendra Singh Rawat as the CM last year. But Harak was not chosen, not even the second time when a much-junior leader in Pushkar Dhami was made the CM. It made it clear to Harak that the BJP would always go with a “true-blood” leader from its ranks as the CM, and not an import like Harak. In fact, Harak has spent time in all parties in the last 32 years of his political career — starting from the BJP in 1989 to BSP in 1996 to Congress in 1998, back to BJP in 2016 and now possibly back to the Congress.
The Congress will have to quickly forget bitter memories of Harak too if they bring him on board and give him two to three tickets too, as he wants. It was Harak who almost brought down the Harish Rawat government in Uttarakhand in 2016 by moving to the BJP with nine Congress MLAs. The party could hardly recover from that blow and crashed to a big defeat in the 2017 elections in Uttarakhand. Learning from the experience, winnability seems to be the top priority of the Congress presently in Uttarakhand and behind its move to get top leaders from the BJP, such as Yashpal Arya and Harak, are the steps in that direction.
There is, however, expected to be a sense of relief in the BJP over a full stop finally to the unending chain of Harak’s bouts of unhappiness, tantrums, complaints and uncharitable statements for former BJP CMs of the state. A BJP leader in Delhi told News18 that Harak is now the worry of the Congress and Harish Rawat with another CM contender adding to the race in the Congress camp. “We are sticking to one family-one ticket formula. Harak not only wanted a ticket for his daughter-in-law from Landsdowne, but his own seat to be changed from Kotdwar to Kedarnath, and then another ticket,” the leader said.
One thing is for sure — For Harak, who has been a minister thrice in both the BJP and the Congress governments, and the leader of Opposition of Congress too, the sense of ambition will not cease.