Uttarakhand Polls: Harish Rawat to contest from a new seat for the fourth time
Former Uttarakhand chief minister and Congress heavyweight Harish Rawat’s candidature from Ramnagar seat of Nainital district sparks possibility of rebellion from local aspirant Ranjit Rawat.
DEHRADUN: The Congress on Monday announced its second list of candidates consisting of 11 names for the upcoming Uttarakhand assembly elections.
Out of the 11 names, the major one which grabbed the eyeballs was former chief minister and party heavyweight Harish Rawat’s candidature from Ramnagar seat of Nainital district.
This is the fourth time Rawat is contesting from a new seat in the assembly elections. He became an MLA for the first time in 2014 after winning the bye-elections from Dharchula constituency of Pithoragarh district. Following that, in the last assembly elections in 2017, he fought from two seats- Haridwar (rural) and Kiccha in US Nagar district but lost in both to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates. This time again, he will be contesting from a new turf.
Harish Rawat while speaking to media persons on Tuesday on his candidature from Ramnagar said he decided to fight from there because, “Ramnagar has made immense contribution in his political career.”
“The people of Ramnagar have given me a lot to which I would always be indebted to them. That is the reason, I decided to contest from there so as to serve them. I am hopeful that they will shower their blessings and love on me in the upcoming elections,” said Rawat.
On the question of possible rebellion by Ranjit Rawat who missed on Ramnagar ticket, he said, “He is like my younger brother and important party leader who always abide by the organisation’s policy. I can only give him my best wishes.”
Despite several attempts, Ranjit Rawat couldn’t be contacted.
The second list released from the office of party national general secretary Mukul Wasnik, has other major names, including party state vice president Suryakant Dhasmana, who will be contesting from highly anticipated Dehradun Cantonment constituency. Anukriti Gusain, daughter-in-law of heavyweight leader and former cabinet minister in present BJP-led state government, Harak Singh Rawat, will be contesting from Lansdowne constituency. She joined the Congress about a week ago along with Rawat after defecting from the BJP. In the second list, Rawat, who is also the MLA from Kotdwar constituency, is missing.
Among the other names, Mohit Uniyal has been given ticket from Doiwala constituency, Jayendra Chand Ramola from Rishikesh against BJP leader and Speaker of state assembly Premchand Aggarwal and Mahendra Pal Singh has been given ticket against cabinet minister Banshidhar Bhagat.
The party is now yet to announce its candidates on remaining Narendra Nagar, Tehri, Salt, Haridwar rural, Roorkee and Chaubattkhal constituencies. Earlier, the party announced the first list on 53 seats Saturday late night.
If party sources are to be believed, there was a “tussle between Rawat and leader of Opposition Pritam Singh on Ramnagar seat’s candidature.”
“While Rawat was adamant on contesting from Ramnagar, Singh wanted the candidature for the former’s once close-aide-turned-foe, Ranjit Rawat. However, due to the clout in the organisation, Harish Rawat won the tussle and got the ticket from Ramnagar,’ said a senior party leader on the condition of anonymity.
He also said that Rawat’s candidature has “not gone down well with Ranjit Rawat who claims that he has worked hard in the constituency for the last five years.”
“Ranjit Rawat’s supporters and party workers in Ramnagar are not happy with Harish Rawat’s candidature there which is becoming a headache for the party. Much will depend on the former CM on how he tackles the issue and pacify Ranjit Rawat who is most likely to get ticket from Salt constituency in the third list,” said the leader.
Cementing his claim, an audio clip of a purported telephonic conversation between former CM Rawat and one of the party workers in Ramnagar went viral on social media in which the former could be heard saying that he “wants to fight from Ramnagar” to which the latter replies that “Ranjit Rawat has worked hard there in the last few years and only he will be fighting from there.”
Amid the development, party state general secretary Mathura Dutt Joshi while confirming the voice in the audio clip as that of former CM Rawat, said, “It was normal procedure between a leader and a worker of a constituency to ask his opinion of him willing to fight from his constituency.”
“But what was wrong is the fact that the private audio was released by someone. It is in violation of the party discipline. The party will take cognizance of it and inquire about the person who leaked the audio which could lead to misconceptions in the organisation,” said Joshi.