Speculation was rife for months that Bahuguna may step down as his leadership skills come under scrutiny in the wake of a natural calamity of catastrophic proportions which had hit the state in June last year claiming thousands of lives.

Congress sources said that after Bahuguna's exit, Rawat is the front-runner for the post. The name of Pritam Singh, who is the Food and Civil Supplies Minister, is also doing rounds. Others in the race include state Finance Minister Indira Hridayesh

Who is Harish Rawat

Harish Rawat, a veteran Congress leader is presently the Water Resources Minister in the Union Cabinet, representing Uttarakhand as Rajya Sabha MP.    

Harish Rawat who lost to Bahuguna in the race for CM in 2012, has been in pursuit of the post but the party high command had not been enthusiastic as it was felt it could intensify factionalism in the deeply divided state unit of the party.

He was the first PCC president of Uttarakhand after its formation. Rawat, despite leading the party to victory in 2002 Assembly elections as the PCC chief, had to make way for ND Tiwari.

He was sidelined again in 2012, when Bahuguna became CM. A sulking Rawat was made a cabinet minister at the Centre later.

Rawat, is a lawyer by education and joined politics as a youth leader in Indian National Congress. He worked for many years as trade union leader and was also involved in different roles in state politics in those years.
 
He worked in the party fold for many years and finally entered Lok Sabha as Member of Parliament after defeating the BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi from Almora constituency in 1980.

(JPN/Agencies)

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