Congress stalwarts in the State declining to fight the upcoming polls has projected a weak face of the party especially with the strong Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates of whom three are former Chief Ministers.

Friction amongst the Congress leaders in the State is growing denser before the list of candidates who would fight the polls from the State gets decided.

Congress leader Satpal Maharaj, who is the sitting MP from the Pauri seat, has declined from contesting the polls over unresolved issues with Chief Minister Harish Rawat, especially regarding the slow reconstruction works in the disaster-hit areas.

Congress sources said that former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna had also declined to contest from the Tehri seat and there was a likelihood that his son Saket Bahuguna would contest from this seat.

However Mr Rawat said, “No probable candidate or sitting MP has told the party leadership that they wouldn’t be fighting the polls.”

Mr Bahuguna was the Congress MP from the Tehri seat in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

His son Saket Bahuguna contested the polls from the seat in the 2012 by-elections but lost the seat to Mala Raj Lakshmi Shah from the BJP.

While the BJP has declared its list of candidates, which includes three former Chief Ministers of the State – B. C. Khanduri, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank – the Congress is still to decide on the names of candidates who would fight the polls.

Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Sunday said the names of the candidates were likely to be declared by this week, adding that the strong candidature of the BJP had not affected the Congress in any way.

Congress sources said that Mr Rawat, who is the sitting MP from the Haridwar seat, would make one of his family members fight the polls from the Haridwar seat.

However, Mr Rawat said, “Someone from my family fighting the polls is the last option. At present we are trying to encourage some local leaders to fight the polls.”

Sources from the Congress said Mr Rawat’s daughter Anupama Rawat had strong chances of getting the ticket from the Haridwar seat.

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