Expelled minister Harak Singh Rawat, daughter-in-law join Congress
Weeks before the Uttarakhand assembly elections, expelled BJP minister Harak Singh Rawat on Friday joined the Congress, along with his daughter-in-law Anukriti Gusain, in New Delhi in presence of former chief minister Harish Rawat.
Weeks before the Uttarakhand assembly elections, expelled Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister Harak Singh Rawat on Friday joined the Congress, along with his daughter-in-law Anukriti Gusain, in New Delhi in presence of former chief minister Harish Rawat.
Rawat is the second cabinet minister and third BJP legislator to switch to the Congress in the last four months. In October last year, Yashpal Arya and his son Sanjeev Arya quit the BJP and joined the Congress.
Elections to the 70-member Uttarakhand legislative assembly will be held on February 14. The counting of votes will be done on March 10.
Soon after joining his old party, Congress, 61-year-old Rawat said he has joined the party unconditionally. He also said he will work for the party as a worker and ensure it wins the state assembly elections. He expressed his gratitude to the Congress high command for allowing him to rejoin the party.
“When Congress will win with full majority on March 10, that will be my apology (for deserting the party in 2016),”Rawat told reporters in Delhi after joining the Congress.
He was dismissed from the Uttarakhand cabinet and expelled from the BJP for six years on Sunday for “anti-party activities”. The last five days have witnessed drama over Rawat’s political future. Congress insiders said the delay in his joining the party was due to opposition from many Congress leaders, especially those close to Harish Rawat, the former chief minister of the state.
Rawat was one of the 10 MLAs who left the Congress to join the BJP in 2016, which led to the toppling of the Harish Rawat-led government in the state. Congress functionaries, on condition of anonymity, said the party wants to use Rawat in the elections against the ruling BJP, but delayed his reinduction so as to not send a wrong signal to party workers.
The functionaries added that the party will give a ticket to only one person from his family, with speculation rife that his daughter-in-law will be named as a candidate.
Rawat’s daughter-in-law Anukriti Gusain is a social worker and model and has won multiple beauty pageants, including Miss Grand International India 2017 and Miss Asia Pacific World 2014. She also runs an NGO in Uttarakhand that works for women and children.
Recently, former CM Harish Rawat had said that those who played a role in toppling his government in 2016 should apologise before joining the Congress. On Tuesday, Rawat said he was ready to apologise as many times as it takes to his elder brother (Harish Rawat). He said he will “apologise keeping in mind the interests of Uttarakhand and its people”, for whom he wants to work continuously.
On XXXXXX Pradeep Tamta, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member, said, “What happened in 2016 was a murder of democracy.” “What is the need to take ‘dhaagdaar’ (stained people) when the Congress is coming to power.”
Rawat, a leader from Garhwal’s Thakur community, was first elected as an MLA in 1991from Pauri and became the youngest minister of then undivided Uttar Pradesh. From 1991 to 1993, he was tourism minister in Uttar Pradesh. Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000.
In 2002, Rawat was elected as an MLA from Lansdowne assembly segment and was made cabinet minister of key departments. In 2007, he was re-elected form Lansdowne and was elected as the leader of Opposition in Uttarakhand legislative assembly. In 2012, he won the election from Rudraprayag assembly segment. After switching to the BJP in 2016, he won the 2017 election from Kotdwar assembly seat.
Uttarakhand BJP spokesperson Suresh Joshi said, “Till yesterday, Harish Rawat was calling him (Harak Singh Rawat) a murderer of democracy. Today he and Congress accept the same leader. Harish Rawat should explain the reasons for his change of heart in front of the public, otherwise he should apologise to public for the statements he made earlier.”
“ Now people will not trust Harish Rawat or any other Congress leader,” he added.