Lok Sabha polls a challenge for Congress, warns former CM Harish Rawat

The Congress heavyweight, however, denied allegations that he had weakened the party organisationally by promoting his supporters during his three-year tenure.

Updated: Sep 08, 2018 00:11:42

By Deep Joshi

Former chief minister Harish Rawat at a recent event. (HT Photo)

Congress veteran Harish Rawat has said the  2019 Lok Sabha polls  could be very challenging for his party in Uttarakhand while rubbishing allegations that he weakened it organisationally by promoting his supporters during his three-year tenure as chief minister.

“Wresting all the five Lok Sabha seats in the state from the BJP would be very challenging for us, if we are not able to tap the growing anger against it (BJP) and stitch up alliances with like-minded parties”, said Rawat, who was recently appointed the All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge for Assam in an interview to Hindustan Times.

The Congress heavyweight who lost both his seats during the last assembly polls feels that the pro-poor policies he introduced together with his initiatives relating to social engineering during his tenure as CM would bring his party back in the reckoning in the 2022 assembly polls.

“The next assembly polls would be all about the pro people policies I introduced during my chief ministership versus the BJP”, he said while denying the possibility of him leading the Congress' election campaign unlike the 2017 assembly polls, which it badly lost.

Rawat, however, said the Congress would have to work on a three-pronged strategy to stage a comeback, be it the Lok Sabha elections or the next assembly elections.

He mentioned that the Congress would have to plan its campaign strategy in a manner that it “is able to tap” the growing public resentment against the BJP government owing to Prime Minister Modi’s failure to keep the promises he made while leading the saffron party’s campaign in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Besides, serious allegations of corruption against the Modi government and BJP chief Amit Shah’s son would have to be vigorously publicised before the people. “One of these allegations pertains to the Rafale deal struck by Prime Minister Modi himself without following proper procedures for buying fighter jets from France”, he alleged. The BJP has denied the charges.

Rawat also stressed the need to “project before the people” the allegations of corruption against BJP chief Amit Shah’s son whose company made a net profit of Rs 80 crores in no time just by investing a measly investment of worth Rs 50,000.”

State BJP president Ajay Bhatt rubbished the allegations alleging that the Congress “is trying to misguide the people by levelling baseless charges against the ruling party.”

Rawat also stressed the need for the Congress to take all non-BJP parties along to defeat the saffron party in the coming elections. “We will have to take along all social groups besides entering into alliances with all non-BJP parties, big or small”, he said referring to outfits such as Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, the state’s oldest regional party, and Aam Aadmi Party.

“Besides, we will have to propagate a number of pro-poor schemes I introduced during my tenure, which helped strengthen the hill state’s agri-pastoral economy”, said the former chief minister.

“Similarly”, he added, “the social engineering he effected by getting certain marginalised communities notified as scheduled castes and scheduled tribes during his tenure could also get our party huge electoral dividends.”

Rawat rubbished allegations that during his chief ministership he got some of his supporters nominated to key organsational posts in the party and got others key positions like that of the assembly Speaker or members of the Rajya Sabha.

“I had no hand in that because all key decisions in our party are taken by the high command”, he claimed. Rawat also denied that he did not induct into his cabinet a supporter of his bete noir and former CM Vijay Bahuguna, which forced the latter along with several other former Congress heavyweights to join the BJP ahead of the last state polls.

He also rubbished the allegations by his political rivals that he was trying to get ticket for his son, Anand and daughter Anupama to contest from the Nainital and Haridwar Lok Sabha seats respectively, much to the chagrin of the party’s genuine ticket aspirants. “I don’t promote them in any manner…but if they are coming up because of their talent who am I to stop them?” Rawat said.

First Published: Sep 08, 2018 00:11:11


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