After the party high command ordered senior Congress leaders to contest Lok Sabha elections in Uttarakhand, many party heavyweights seem more interested in making ground for themselves for the future, particularly to have a major say in selecting candidates in the 2017 assembly elections.

This clearly implies that the Congress leaders are taking the Lok Sabha elections as an added work load only. If they win, it’s great but even if they lose, they would be able to become regional satraps in the hilly state.

In Congress, the politics of satraps work and usually the general elections are like a theatre of war for them or an opportunity to show their importance and power in the party.

During the formation of Uttarakhand as a new state in 2000, the Congress was dominated by four center of power – N D Tiwari camp (Nainital), Harish Rawat (Almora), Vijay Bahuguna (Tehri) and Satpal Maharaj (Paudi Garhwal).

In 2002 when Congress tasted electoral success in Uttarakhand, party’s internal factionalism surfaced wide out in open. Erstwhile party state president Harish Rawat was a strong contender for top post in the state but ND Tiwari was made Chief Minister. Tiwari was later appointed as Andhra Pradesh Governor in 2007 since then the octogenarian leader has been out of active politics.

Congress returned to power in the state for the second time in 2012 and this time too Rawat’s hope of becoming the Chief Minister was dashed as Vijay Bahuguna was given coveted post.

This again resulted in a hushed internal strife in the Congress camp and the party high command had to replace Bahuguna with Harish Rawat. However, this didn’t mark an end to the dissension in the party.

The only difference this time around was that the focal point of the internal bickering wasn’t Rawat but two other party stalwarts – Satpal Maharaj and Bahuguna. Finally, Maharaj quit Congress to join Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of 2014 general elections.

Even the Bahuguna camp in the party constantly expressed its resentment over this matter and the former chief minister refused to fight Lok Sabha elections. His decision created another storm for the Congress, as the party found it tricky to field strong and winnable candidates from both Tehri and Paudi Garhwal LS constituencies.

This whole episode has clearly sent signals in the state that senior Congress leaders in Uttarakhand are more interested in making grounds for future than the imminent Lok Sabha polls in the state.

Bahuguna’s son Saket Bahuguna will try his luck from Tihri, while senior Congress leader Harak Singh Rawat will fight against former chief minister BC Khanduri from Pauri-Garhwal.

Harish Rawat did manage to get his wife Renuka Rawat party ticket from the Haridwar Lok Sabha constituency, while Pradeep Tamta and K C Singh Baba have been fielded from Almora and Nainital seats respectively.


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