Congress’s troubles with the old guard spread to another state with former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat going public with his frustration against the AICC stewardship of the election campaign. Rawat, 73, is reportedly upset with AICC Uttarakhand in-charge Devender Yadav, a Rahul Gandhi appointee, denying him a greater role in the campaign.
Rawat, who won his first election in 1980, was recently the party’s troubleshooter in Punjab where another veteran, Amarinder Singh, had refused to go quietly. While it isn’t clear whether Rawat was hinting at quitting politics or the party, without a doubt he remains the biggest face of the Congress in Uttarakhand despite huge setbacks lately.
In 2017 he lost from both constituencies he contested from despite being the incumbent CM and was dealt another humiliating defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Nevertheless, Uttarakhand’s history of throwing out incumbents has given many in the Congress hope of arresting BJP’s electoral dominance in the state since 2014.
Read also: Ahead of polls, Harish Rawat alleges ‘non-co-operation from party organisation’, hints at quitting
The defiance of the old guard stems from Rahul Gandhi’s inability to be a vote catcher for the party. In the past, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi could usher in generational changes on the strength of their popular standing. Rahul Gandhi’s desire to mimic them and flush out ageing leaders – Ghulam Nabi Azad’s muscle flexing in Jammu is another emerging flashpoint – is understandable. But Rahul doesn’t have the luxury of letting go of cadres.
Despite BJP being forced to change two CMs in Uttarakhand, it is Congress that is appearing to be on the backfoot. With EC set to announce election dates soon, Rahul has little time left to mollify Rawat and put the Congress campaign back on the rails. The Congress, fighting itself, rather than BJP is a narrative that refuses to change, in state after state that the two parties are the main political forces.
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