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Harish Rawat in fresh trouble: aide's RS nomination angers ally PDF

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:50 IST
The chosen one
  • The Congress has given a ticket to Pradeep Tamta for the lone Uttarakhand Rajya Sabha seat currently up for grabs
  • Tamta is known to be a close aide of Chief Minister Harish Rawat
The dissidence
  • Congress ally PDF has rejected Tamta\'s candidature, and is threatening to field its own candidate
  • Even senior Cong leader Yashpal Arya is threatening to join the BJP over Tamta\'s nomination
More in the story
  • One man that both PDF and Arya would agree upon
  • Why the RS list is angering Congressmen outside of Uttarakhand as well

There seems to be no end to Harish Rawat's troubles. Three weeks since he resumed charge of Uttarakhand, after the state was put under President's Rule, Rawat now faces another rebellion from its ally, the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF), and a senior state leader.

They are all upset with the Congress's decision to field Rawat loyalist Pradeep Tamta for the biennial Rajya Sabha elections.

PDF & a Congress leader are upset with the party's decision to field Pradeep Tamta for the RS poll

In wake of these developments, Rawat met Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday, 30 May, and updated her on the political developments in the state, a source close to him said.

The source added: "The Chief Minister spoke to the central leadership and they're in no mood to back down. Rawat and the high command are firmly backing Tamta. No one can question the high command, so even those opposing the decision will have to accept it."

Rawat assured the central leadership that negotiations are on with the PDF, and the impasse is likely to be broken soon.

PDF's own choices

Apparently, PDF insiders are giving hints of reconciliation if Congress state president Kishore Upadhyay is named as the Rajya Sabha candidate. But, the party is adamant on Tamta, and a solution is being worked out to convince the PDF leadership.

The PDF was crucial to the Rawat government's survival, and raised the issue of the Congress not consulting it before announcing Tamta's name on 28 May. A day later, the Front announced independent legislator Dinesh Dhanai as its candidate for the lone upper house seat up for

grabs from the state.

Interestingly, much before Tamta's name was announced, a senior state

Congress leader had speculated about the PDF opposing the candidature of anyone except Upadhyay.

"If they announce another name, the PDF will oppose it, and force the leadership to announce Upadhyay's candidature. If the CM was working hard to save his government during the recent political crisis, Upadhyay too had been running from pillar to post to ensure stability in the party. Plus, he is on good terms with PDF leaders," the leader had said.

Another dissident joins the ranks

The PDF is not the only one resisting Tamta's candidature. Senior state Congress leader Yashpal Arya, another Rajya Sabha aspirant, is threatening to revolt and join the BJP over the decision.

On Monday, he met Sonia Gandhi and expressed his reservations, saying the decision was influenced by Rawat. "Rawat has been accused of favouring those close to him and Tamta certainly is closest to him," said a party functionary.

Both the PDF and dissident MLA Arya would back state Cong chief Kishore Upadhyay's nomination for RS

Arya, too, lent support to Upadhyay. A state minister and former Assembly speaker, Arya wrote a letter to the party chief endorsing his and Upadhyay's candidature, but his plea was also dismissed by the central leadership.

Upadhyay has downplayed all these rumors and, in a statement, thanked Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and Rawat for their decision. "We are confident that he (Tamta) will strongly raise issues related to the development of the state in the upper house," read the statement.

Walking a tightrope

The latest crisis is bound to further strain the fragile unity in the state Congress, which was put through a test recently. A section of the party is increasingly becoming disillusioned with Rawat's preference of those close to him over those who deserve it.

In fact, the nine Congress leaders who had rebelled against the party claimed to have been frustrated with the CM's high-handedness and favouritism.

But it's not just Uttarakhand - the party's list of Rajya Sabha nominees has drawn flak from party leaders, especially since there are no Muslims or Dalits in the list.

Even the unknown Chhaya Verma's nomination from Chhattisgarh is being questioned by party leaders. A senior Congress secretary added: "They could have nominated P Chidambaram from Chhattisgarh and let Sushil Kumar Shinde, a senior leader and Dalit face, represent Maharashtra. Who is Chhaya Verma and what does she bring to the table? If it had to be woman, All India Mahila Congress president Shobha Oza deserved it more."

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 30 May 2016, 10:47 IST