By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 11 Jul: Even as the Congress party in Uttarakhand was attempting to get over the shock of its three leaders joining the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), it was in for another shock when several Congress leaders suddenly started gathering at Congress leader Harak Singh Rawat’s residence.
Harak Singh Rawat, who has maintained a very low profile since the state assembly elections, suddenly made news today when several Congress leaders including Pritam Singh, Vijaypal Sajwan, Raj Kumar, Bhuwan Kapri and Lal Chand Sharma reached his house. Soon after, the media too gathered outside his house in Defence Colony.
Rawat described the meeting as a courtesy meeting to discuss the political situation and how to strengthen the party, but speculation has begun whether Rawat was preparing to switch parties once more. It may be recalled that Rawat has switched parties in his political career at the drop of a hat. Beginning his political career with BJP in undivided Uttar Pradesh and becoming an MLA in 1991 and a minister, he switched over to Congress and became a minister in the ND Tiwari Government but had to quit because of the Jenny scandal. However, he lost interest in Congress to join the BSP but did not stay in that party for long and returned to the Congress. He became the Leader of the Opposition in 2007 and a minister in the Congress Government in 2012. However, he quit Congress in 2016 and joined the BJP. He became a minister in the BJP Government led by Trivendra Singh Rawat but, just months before the elections, he was thrown out by the BJP and he joined the Congress again. However, he did not contest the elections but made his daughter-in-law Anukriti Gusain Rawat the Congress candidate but she lost. Since then, Rawat has been in oblivion. It was after several months that Rawat made the headlines today. Speculation is rife whether he would be the next Congress leader to quit the Congress party and join AAP. Some sources even claim that he could call on the top BJP leadership and join that party once again. However, the way several senior Congress leaders including some elected MLAs like Pritam Singh and Bhuwan Kapri visited him, such an outcome does not appear likely anytime soon, even if Harak Singh Rawat is known to be unpredictable in this respect.
Speaking to the media, Rawat claimed that the meeting was merely a courtesy call by the party leaders. However, in the same vein, he added that Congress appeared to be weak in Uttarakhand as well as across the country. He also took a jibe at veteran party leader Harish Rawat, who he accused of behaving like a new leader these days. Be it the country or the state, democracy could remain strong only with a strong opposition. When asked why he had been keeping a distance from Congress programmes, he said he had taken out time for some personal reflection because his past twenty years had been very busy.