By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 22 Dec: Now that the existing Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) has been dissolved, almost three years after the end of its official term, constitution of new PCC is imminent. However, constitution of the new PCC is going to be probably the biggest challenge for PCC Chief Pritam Singh. It is now almost three years since the then PCC Chief, Kishore Upadhyay, was thrown out even before his term ended and replaced by Pritam Singh. However, despite this, Pritam Singh could not gather the courage to constitute his own PCC and had to continue with the outgoing PCC office bearers and members, many of whom were close to Upadhyay.
Party insiders point out that Upadhyay was replaced chiefly because he had fallen out with the most powerful Congress leader in the state, Harish Rawat. Sources further state that Upadhyay was once considered to be very close to Rawat but had fallen out with him because, as the Chief Minister, then, Harish Rawat continued to call the shots in party affairs, too, and ignored even the small demands made by Upadhyay. Not only Rawat but some of his personal team members who were officially not part of the PCC were running party affairs which had angered Upadhyay and, as a result, he had drifted away from Rawat.
Interestingly, PritamS ingh, also considered to be very close to Harish Rawat and once a member of Harish Rawat’s core team also has fallen out with Rawat, sources insist. They claim that Pritam Singh was peeved by the fact that Harish Rawat was running his own parallel programmes without informing either the PCC or seeking its support. As a result, Singh and one time major rival of Harish Rawat, Indira Hridayesh have come closer than ever before and are now working as one faction. Sources assert that Singh, who had been attempting to get clearance from the party high command to reconstitute the PCC was not getting the go ahead when Rahul Gandhi was the Congress President. Rahul Gandhi listened only to Harish Rawat during his presidentship. The major reason, ostensibly, was that Singh wanted to keep a small PCC while Rawat wanting to ensure inclusion of his own supporters and was insisting on a jumbo sized Committee. As a result, Singh could not reconstitute the PCC, thus far, party insiders assert.
Things, however, started changing once Sonia Gandhi returned as Congress President and now that Singh has been given the go ahead by the party high command, a new PCC is likely to be in place soon. Sources, however, claim that with the possibility of Congress returning to power at the Centre soon being remote, Harish Rawat is aiming once again to become the CM, should the party win the 2022 Assembly elections and, therefore, wants to ensure that his core supporters retain crucial posts in the PCC. Some sources close to Singh claimed that Singh had managed to convince the central leadership of the party that it was necessary to keep a small PCC in order to manage it more efficiently. They claim that the size of the new PCC would not be extraordinary large but tend towards the medium. Singh in coordination with Indira Hridayesh might manage to get some of independent minded leaders appointed to important posts in the PCC but would still have to accommodate some of the names insisted upon by Harish Rawat. Harish Rawat might not be very close to Sonia Gandhi but the Congress President would still not want to brush aside his claims, as he is the tallest party leader in Uttarakhand, especially after the exit of the likes of Satpal Maharaj, Vijay Bahuguna and Harak Singh Rawat. Therefore, the challenge to constitute a fairly well balanced PCC from the point of view of merit and regional perspectives is not going to be an easy task for Pritam Singh. He, however, is learnt to have the full support of Anugrah Singh, the leader in charge of the party affairs in Uttarakhand, and Ahmed Patel, whom Singh had met on 15 December in this regard!