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Any Takers?

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Chronic party-hopper Harak Singh Rawat couldn’t have planned for what has occurred – being expelled by the BJP late in the night, thereby devaluing his negotiating position with the Congress. The Congress, too, does not seem too eager for his services – the state Party President, Ganesh Godiyal, has said that the clearance would have to come from the High Command, which would decide in ‘what capacity’ he would be inducted. In fact, taking him back would indicate that the party is in dire enough straits to digest the betrayal of five years ago.

It is possible that an interview given by Harak Singh’s daughter-in-law, Anukriti Gusain, in which she had declared her willingness to contest from whichever party gave her the ticket, was the last straw for the BJP. It revealed her family’s opportunistic strategy with little concern for loyalty or commitment to any political ideology. The BJP had obviously stuck by the commitments made by it to the Congress defectors at the time of the last election, despite many embarrassments. However, the pact was broken by Yashpal Arya and his son, who left the party for the Congress. Since then, all bets have been off.

Is Harak Singh Rawat such a tall figure that even party affiliations don’t matter when it comes to winning elections? Has he the carte blanche to enjoy the fruits of office despite his self-serving politics? What compulsion is there for parties to accommodate him in their cabinets? Thus far, there has been no evidence of his having an independent votebank that follows him wherever he goes. In fact, if anything, he has a penchant for rubbing people up the wrong way – be they party seniors, Cabinet colleagues, government officials or junior functionaries. How will a deal made with him by the Congress be interpreted by the general public?

His possible entry has already caused apprehension among ticket aspirants in the Congress. His hankering after the Doiwala seat will not go down well with Hira Singh Bist, a strong contender. If Bist is ‘adjusted’ in Raipur, Prabhulal Bahuguna, who has carried the party flag for the past five years, will be greatly disgruntled. The ripple effect of such ‘adjustments’ will spread through the party. By what reckoning is this going to help a party struggling to maintain its credibility among the voters? Most of all, how is former CM Harish Rawat going to take it? Will he be willing to forget past betrayals and the cross he has borne largely alone in the past five years?