'Will Leave Uttarakhand If Party Asks': Says Congress Leader Harish Rawat, Calls Himself 'Problem' for Many
Senior Congress leader Harish Rawat. (File photo)
Senior Congress leader Harish Rawat, who has been in the party for over five decades, is nowadays hovering between Chandigarh-Delhi-Dehradun. Rawat, who is also a member in Congress' decision making body CWC and party in-charge of Punjab affairs, has achieved some success recently in making Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu to sink their differences.
However, back in his home state Uttarakhand, Harish Rawat is facing an uphill task. Caught between the camps of state Congress chief Pritam Singh and Leader of Opposition in assembly Indira Hridayesh, Harish Rawat accepted that he is considered as a "problem child".
“I will withdraw from Uttarakhand if the party asks me to do so,” Harish Rawat, former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, told News18.
Ever since the BJP won in the 70-member Uttarakhand assembly in 2017 with a thumping majority, Harish Rawat did his best to remain active into the politics. He was seen praising incumbent Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat-led government in the state, firing salvo on the same BJP-ruled government and at times hitting hard on party leaders in his unique way.
"Unlike Hariya Hercules our Hariya is astute,” said one of Rawat’s supporters while quoting a popular fiction ‘The Perplexity of Hariya Hercules’ written by noted author Manohar Shyam Joshi.
In the last three years, the ‘individual’ campaigns and programs by Harish Rawat across the state have been seen as an attempt to project himself as a potential chief ministerial candidate ahead of the next Uttarakhand assembly elections, which are due in less than 15 months. Drawing idea from Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi, Harish Rawat had announced that the Congress party will provide free water and electricity to people if voted to power in Uttarakhand. However, this announcement forced state Congress president Pritam Singh to clarify that "party has not decided on any such promise yet".
Moreover, a recent statement by Harish Rawat that he will take retirement from active politics in 2024 after making Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister has been doing rounds widely.
Congress leader and Harish Rawat’s bête noire Indira Hridayesh refrained herself from commenting on the former’s retirement announcement but said that "his statements always have a political message”.
Meanwhile, BJP leader and incumbent Chief Minister Trivendra Rawat sarcastically said, "Harish Rawat is already 70 plus and he has made a right decision (to announce retirement)".
A section in Uttarakhand Congress feels that Harish Rawat creates an impression that he himself is a ‘party’. Congress MLA Govind Singh Kunjwal said that Harish Rawat cannot be ignored. Congress was defeated badly in the 2017 polls by BJP. Moreover, Harish Rawat, who was the poster boy of Congress in 2017 state assembly polls, had lost from both the seats he had contested.
"People have realised the mistake and there is a sense of sympathy among voters for Harish Rawat. Congress leaders should understand that we have been united (under Harish Rawat's leadership) else we won’t be able to take on BJP," said Kunjwal, who is known to be Harish Rawat's loyalist.
However, Harish Rawat’s other sympathizer Karan Mahara, who is a Deputy Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, feels otherwise. He said, "Senior leaders should avoid giving an impression that Congress is a party with differences."