Indira Hridayesh, a prominent Brahmin face of Congress’s Uttarakhand unit and popularly known as “didi" among leaders across party lines, breathed her last on Sunday morning in Delhi after suffering a cardiac arrest. The 80-year-old Leader of Opposition in the Uttarakhand assembly was in the national capital to settle down the “trickiest issue" of leadership ahead of the state assembly elections slated to be held next year.
Hridayesh was a well-known Congress face in the hill state besides party general secretary Harish Rawat. She was the cabinet minister in the erstwhile Harish Rawat government and remained in the Congress even when in 2016 top leaders such as former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, Subodh Uniyal and Harak Singh Rawat switched over to the BJP. Both Harak Rawat and Uniyal are cabinet ministers in the current BJP government in Uttarakhand, while Bahuguna’s son is MLA from his father’s seat.
On Saturday in her last interview to News18, Hridayesh had said that she will contest upcoming Uttarakhand polls. The late Congress leader was though not keeping well since she got infected and later recovered from Covid-19.
“There is no time for differences. I am contesting polls so my colleague and state party President Pritam Singh," she had said when asked about differences among the party leaders.
Hridayesh was a teacher by profession for many years but it was in 1974 when she started her political career after winning election to the upper house in erstwhile Uttar Pradesh assembly. She remained Member of Legislative Council until Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in the year 2000. She was first elected to Uttarakhand assembly in 2002 elections from the Haldwani constituency and remained minister in all the Congress-ruled governments.
Hridayesh is survived by two sons. Two years back, her elder son Sumit Hridayesh unsuccessfully contested election for Mayor from Haldwani. He was with her mother when she breathed her last in Delhi.
In Uttarakhand, the Congress party is hoping to bounce back in upcoming state assembly polls after the party witnessed an embarrassing defeat in 2017 elections. The party was reduced to 11 seats in the 70-member state assembly. Congress’s poster boy Harish Rawat had lost from both of the constituencies he had contested.
Recently, late Hridayesh had asserted that the party would not project any chief ministerial face even as her political rival Harish Rawat supporters were repeatedly claiming that Rawat was the “only choice" left before the Congress to counter “mighty" BJP.
According to sources in the Congress, with Hridayesh’s demise, the party is left with no prominent Brahmin face in Uttarakhand. Moreover, now Harish Rawat remains lone face in the Congress with considerable political experience.