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Pritam Singh, Harish Rawat at loggerheads again


By Arun Pratap Singh

Dehradun, 29 May: Infighting and factionalism continue to be the major bane in the Uttarakhand Congress. Even if for a while the warring Congress leaders try to show that all is well between them, they again start issuing statements against each other.

Despite his best efforts, the current State Congress Committee Chief Karan Mahra has been unable to control this. One reason behind his failure, according to several Congress leaders, is that he is a part of the Harish Rawat faction. As a result, he has failed to earn the trust of the other factions.

While one major faction in Uttarakhand Congress is led by veteran leader Harish Rawat, a rival faction is led by Chakrata MLA and former PCC Chief Pritam Singh. The party sources remind that Pritam Singh was earlier seen in the party as a protégé of Harish Rawat. However, the differences between the two had arisen when Harish Rawat was the CM and the differences had sharply intensified after the Congress lost power in 2017. That was also the time, when one time close confidante of Harish Rawat, Ranjeet Rawat also parted ways with his political mentor. That was the time when Pritam Singh and Ranjeet Rawat joined the faction led by the late Indira Hridayesh. However, this faction suffered a setback when Indira Hridayesh passed away in June 2021.

Since then, there has been open bickering between Pritam Singh and Harish Rawat.

It is not as if they did not attempt to patch up their differences. Some months ago both had met on a number of occasions and indicated that all was now well.

Party sources point out that this did not turn out to be true and the differences persisted.  The latest tug of war between the two was evident when Pritam Singh declared he did not wish to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Sources remind that Singh had made this declaration to dismiss rumours that he was eager to join the BJP and contest the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections from Tehri Parliamentary constituency. Sources claim that some of his political opponents within Congress were behind such speculation. In order to dispel the speculation, Singh declared that neither was he leaving the Congress nor was he interested in contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Meanwhile, reacting to the claim by Singh, Harish Rawat stated that it is for the party high command to decide who would be contesting or not contesting the upcoming parliamentary elections. As a veteran party leader who also holds a responsible position in the party, he would not become part of any speculation to claim whether he would like to contest the upcoming parliamentary elections. He couldn’t talk about the issue in public and create any confusion. He further asserted that some Congress leaders, by issuing statements about contesting or not contesting, were trying to create confusion among the party leaders and workers. He further emphasised that no party leader has the right to speculate about contesting the elections and create confusion or putting pressure on other leader to also make such declarations. Such declarations bring down the morale of the party workers, Rawat said.

Reacting to the statement of Harish Rawat, Pritam Singh said that Harish Rawat is a big leader. However, the entire state knows who obeys the diktats of the Party High Command and who does not. He need not repeat this. Singh asserted that he was a small party worker who never violated the orders of the Party High Command. He added that there were genuine reasons behind his declaration that he did not want to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha election. He also made it clear that he has not spoken about this with the party high command or the PCC Chief. It will be the Party High Command in consultation with the Party organisation that will take the decision on whom to give ticket. The elections are contested under the organisation and with the support of the organisation only.