A little over a fortnight after his government was dismissed and President’s Rule imposed in Uttarakhand, former Chief Minister Harish Rawat met Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday evening to apprise him about the political situation in the State.
This was his first meeting with Mr. Rahul Gandhi since the crisis broke in the State — earlier there had been one telephonic conversation — after nine MLAs, headed by former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, quit the party. In his meeting with Mr. Gandhi, Mr. Rawat, party sources said, recounted the chain of events that led to his dismissal and briefed him about the options before the Congress in the two possible scenarios — if the BJP chooses to form a government with the support of rebel MLAs or the Assembly is dissolved immediately and fresh elections are held.
“The Prime Minister,” Mr. Rawat said, “often talks about cooperative federalism but what he is doing is combative federalism. What has happened in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand bear testimony to this. This is not a matter related to one State or only Congress party, this is an assault on federal structure. I dare the BJP to call fresh elections.”
Earlier, Mr. Rawat in an interaction with journalists here, said the BJP was weighing its options – whether to try and form a government or go for elections. The Congress, he stressed, was prepared for all eventualities.
He said he was sure that the people would not forget the way his government was dismissed and “teach” the BJP a lesson in the coming Assembly polls.
The BJP had fanned a revolt in the Congress, he said, as he and his government were both an impediment in the BJP’s pursuit of its communal agenda in Uttarakhand as well as its ambition of creating a Congress-mukt Bharat. Referring to the sting operation against him that became the basis for the use of Article 356, Mr. Rawat said, “If sting operations are to become the basis of the dismissal of governments, then how is [Chhattisgarh CM] Raman Singh still in office? A sting operation showed him talking about tampering with the election process.”