Other States

Congress bets on new frontmen to revive fortunes in Uttarakhand

The first test for the Congress will be to face Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami in the Champawat Assembly bypoll scheduled for May 31.

The first test for the Congress will be to face Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami in the Champawat Assembly bypoll scheduled for May 31. | Photo Credit: PTI

Two months after the Congress received a drubbing in the Assembly polls in Uttarakhand, the party is trying to get its act together in the hill State — ending factionalism and preventing the poaching of its 19 MLAs.

Three recent appointments by the party are being seen in this context – Karan Mahara as the chief of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC), who is known to maintain his distance from the different factions within the State unit, the vastly experienced Yashpal Arya as the Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly, and Bhuvan Chandra Kapri, who defeated Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami from the Khatima seat in the Assembly polls, as the deputy leader of the Congress Legislature Party. Interestingly, all three of them hail from the Kumaon region. 

More trouble

Ironically, these appointments, which were made to contain rebellion and introduce fresh energy in the party’s rank and file, have sparked dissent within the party. Three-time MLA from Dharchula constituency, Harish Dhami, has spoken publicly against these decisions, saying senior and honest leaders were being ignored and newcomers given leadership positions. 

Mr. Dhami even offered to vacate his seat for the Chief Minister as a hint of his shifting loyalties. Party insiders say that a lot of efforts were put into pacifying him.

In a recent setback to the party, Jot Singh Bisht, a senior Congress leader and a known face in Garhwal politics, switched over to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). In his recent Facebook post, Mr. Bisht said given the factionalism, indiscipline, neglect of loyal workers and lopsided decision-making, the future of the party was in jeopardy.

Reacting to these developments, Congress spokesperson Garima Dasauni said, “If leaders who have held prominent positions in the party are making such statements, then whose responsibility was it to work on the shortcomings of the party?”

“No big leader of the party has ever talked about joining another party. We are now are working at the grassroots to rebuild the organisation and enhance the morale of party workers,” said Mathura Dutt Joshi, secretary (organisation) of the PCC.

Garhwal blues

To this end, Mr. Joshi added, the new PCC chief is extensively touring the Garhwal region of the State. 

“Mr. Mahara spent two weeks in the seven districts of Garhwal. He met all the party leaders and workers and collected their feedback about the party’s defeat in the recent polls,” he said. 

The PCC chief has already held 46 meetings in the Garhwal region’s seven districts — Dehradun, Haridwar, Pauri, Chamoli, Tehri, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi.  

The Garhwal region has been a particular area of concern for the party as it was able to secure only three out of the 30 seats from this part of the State.

The decisions made by the Congress will be immediately tested in the Champawat Assembly bypoll scheduled on May 31. Chief Minister Dhami is contesting from the seat to enter the Assembly. 

The Congress has already deployed its top brass in Champawat to enhance the morale of the workers that had taken a further beating after 22 Block Development Committee members, a municipal chief and three councillors switched over to the BJP. 

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Printable version | May 13, 2022 10:47:33 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/congress-bets-on-new-frontmen-to-revive-fortunes-in-uttarakhand/article65408470.ece