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Power struggle intensifies in U’khand Cong

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By Arun Pratap Singh

Dehradun, 22 Jun: Congress in Uttarakhand has always been faction ridden but the power struggle within the Uttarakhand appears to have intensified of late. It is a well known fact that though, the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) Chief Pritam Singh owes his position to senior party leader and former chief minister Harish Rawat, both have not been on very cordial terms during the past one year or so. The latest bone of contention between the two is the appointment of Sumitter Bhullar as the Working President of Pradesh Youth Congress. The fact is that while Rawat continues to enjoy a strong support of Congress President Rahul Gandhi at the Centre who had two years ago promoted him as National General Secretary, he appears to be losing his strongest of supporters to Pritam Singh of late. Ranjit Singh Rawat, a close relative of Harish Rawat and his most trusted lieutenant when Harish Rawat was the Chief Minister also is learnt to be cosying up to Pritam Singh. Some other “core” members of the team Harish Rawat are also learnt to be distancing themselves at least publicly from the veteran leader. Among them is also a local party leader from Dehradun who owes his entire political career to Rawat and has been a party spokesman in the past. Ranjit Singh Rawat is not only a close relative of Harish Rawat but he was the most powerful man in the state when Harish Rawat was the chief minister. He, along with the then senior bureaucrat Rakesh Sharma were the core power centres. The businessmen and investors, contractors, liquor barons, all used to approach these two persons get deals done in the Harish Rawat Government! Not only this, officials were also seen lobbying with Ranjit Rawat for transfers and postings of choice during that period. Once Harish Rawat lost the assembly elections as well as the CM’s chair, Ranjit Singh Rawat continued to be his trusted lieutenant till recently when he reportedly had a “fall out” with Harish Rawat. In fact, Harish Rawat had even got Ranjit Rawat’s son Vikram Singh Rawat appointed as Pradesh Youth President once his own son Anand Singh Rawat completed his term as Pradesh Congress President. However, the recent appointment of Bhullar as Working President of Pradesh Youth Congress is being seen as an indication of Harish Rawat’s anger against Ranjit Rawat’s fall out with him. Bhullar, earlier was Pradesh Congress Vice President till the All India in charge of Youth Congress Krishna Alavira appointed him as the working president. It is not often that a working president is appointed in any state unit of Youth Congress. Party insiders claim that Harish Rawat was miffed with Ranjit Rawat cosying up to Pritam Singh and since he still exercises strong influence at the central level even when Party President Rahul Gandhi appears to be reluctant to carry on as Party President, he got Bhullar appointed as Working President of the Youth Wing of PCC. Insiders further claim that Vikram Singh Rawat and Sumitter Bhullar are hardly on talking terms and the fresh developments are only expected to raise the friction within the Youth Congress as well as PCC! There is no doubt that recent developments have disturbed Harish Rawat to a great extent and he has expressed his disappointment at recent developments on social media too albeit in very indirect words and his expression is probably intended to be a message for his ex-lieutenants to be careful! Party insiders also claim that Harish Rawat usually plays his political cards through his core team members and runs a parallel set up rather than using the party set up and this was a major reason behind his rather humiliating defeat in Nainital seat. They further point out that during the recent parliamentary polls, Ranjit Rawat preferred to be “busy”in Almora election and “work” towards win of the party candidate from there Pradeep Tamta to camp in Nainital and work for Harish Rawat. Sources claim that Harish Rawat is now again trying to win back support of ex- President of PCC, Kishore Upadhyay, who was incidentally replaced by Pritam Singh at the pursuance of Harish Rawat only. Meanwhile the tussle in the Pradesh Congress is visibly affecting the party’s performance at all levels where everyone worth his salt is behaving like a Swayambhu (Self driven) leader! The party insiders however blame personal ambitions of Harish Rawat for the current power struggle within the party!