Uttarakhand, which has seen three Chief Ministers in the last five years, is going to the polls on the 14th of February. This time the battle is between the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), the party ruling major states of India, and Congress, which is struggling to survive as a national party. The Congress lost the last elections very badly and their CM candidate Harish Rawat lost both his seats in Haridwar rural and Kichha. BJP came to power with a landslide mandate.
The state of Uttarakhand has a very strange history of no repetition of power, political sacrifices, and defections, especially from Congress. In this neck-to-neck battle between BJP and Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is ready to give a twist and it is quite unpredictable to say how the politics of Uttarakhand will unfold. Here, let’s delve deeper into the possibilities this time.
Politics of Uttarakhand
All the smaller states that were cut out from larger landmasses have vastly different politics from mainstream politics. The local leaders who have fought for the disintegration became heroes. The issues and fighting tactics are completely different in these states. The independent MLAs play a key role in the formation of the government as well.
Harish Rawat: The Politician of Uttarakhand
The front runner or say the only runner of Congress Party for the post of Chief Minister has seen all eras of Indian Politics. He started his political career as a trade unionist at the Indian Youth Congress. A Kumaoni belonging to the Rajput clan, Rawat slowly made his space in not only the state but national politics. He even headed the Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee. He first reached the Indian Parliament in 1980 after defeating Murli Manohar Joshi from the Almora seat. Rawat is a five-time member of Parliament. He even held some ministries one of them being the Ministry of Water Resource in the Manmohan Singh Cabinet.
In 2014, he became the Chief Minister of the state after CM Vijay Roopani resigned following inadequate management of the 2013 floods. He won the by-elections from Dharchula and secured his government.
However, it was not a smooth sail. Nine Congress MLAs rebelled against him, and his government became a minority government. After the imposition of the President’s rule, Rawat won the trust votes and entered back into the legislative assembly.
In 2017, Rawat led the Congress in the state and fought from two seats; Haridwar rural and Kichha and lost both. In the coming election, he is eyeing to avenge the humiliation he faced in the last elections. But Rawat’s way forward is not that easy.
Political Mandate of Uttarakhand
As predicted by the Political Pundits and the Opinion Polls, the state of Uttarakhand is all set to give a distorted mandate. The BJP is fighting to retain its legacy in the state whereas the Congress is fighting to avenge its defeat of the last assembly elections. If the people of Uttarakhand give a fragmented mandate the political situation of Uttarakhand is going to be overly complicated.
The Front runner of Congress, Harish Rawat is witnessing groupism from his own clan headed by Devendra Yadav. This is making the Congress giant very furious and along with that, it is also weakening his roots. Harish Rawat and the major power holders of Uttarakhand Congress are having a power clash.
Rawat’s dissatisfaction with Congress
Earlier in December last year, Rawat in a series of cryptic tweets had expressed his dissatisfaction. He took onto the Congress leadership to express his displeasure over state affairs. He even claimed that he is taking directions from the one who have tied up his hands and feet. He also took a jibe at the organisational structure explaining that they are obstructing him by acting against him. With a heavy heart, he also went on to indicate possible retirement from politics. He said that he is in a state of turmoil and is unhappy.
है न अजीब सी बात, चुनाव रूपी समुद्र को तैरना है, सहयोग के लिए संगठन का ढांचा अधिकांश स्थानों पर सहयोग का हाथ आगे बढ़ाने के बजाय या तो मुंह फेर करके खड़ा हो जा रहा है या नकारात्मक भूमिका निभा रहा है। जिस समुद्र में तैरना है,
— Harish Rawat (@harishrawatcmuk) December 22, 2021
Harish Rawat has already made several political sacrifices in the past. Sometimes in the name of mandate and sometimes in the name of seniority. Rawat has vacated the chair for many leaders including N.D. Tiwari, Vijay Bahuguna, among others. Also, the leadership and the cadre of the Congress party is not strong enough to garner votes in favour of Rawat.
Uttarakhand has recently witnessed a shift of MLAs. The state of Uttarakhand has a history of defections. Rawat being unsatisfied with the Congress and its High Command may walk in the footsteps of Jyotiraditya Scindia. Harish Rawat along with the MLAs on his side may switch sides for the sake of power.