The Harish Rawat faction in the Uttarakhand Congress has demanded that the former CM be made the ‘face’ of the campaign for the 2022 assembly election. There can be a number of reasons for this demand, but primarily it is to throw his hat into the ring, early, and draw the attention of the High Command. This has, naturally, sent waves through the state unit of the party, because it also sends a message to the other factions that Rawat is not to be counted out in any sense. His humiliating defeat in the last election, both, as the party leader, and in the two constituencies where he contested, notwithstanding, his ambitions remain.
This is indicative of how empty the Congress basket is at the moment. It has had the last three and a half years to examine its defeat, pick a new crop of upcoming leaders and formulate a winning strategy under the incumbent state president, Pritam Singh. Sadly, it has done none of this. Be it Pritam Singh or Leader of the Opposition Dr Indira Hridayesh, they have merely coasted along, unable to overcome the party’s poor showing at the hustings.
Of course, they are not entirely to blame. The Congress party as an entity has failed to evolve an alternative ideological platform to counter Prime Minister Modi. Rahul Gandhi’s fulminations against the PM, or the tendency to back any group or movement, however radical, merely to spite the BJP have not served to raise the party’s profile. This is particularly the case in a better informed state like Uttarakhand.
This naturally leaves the party with nothing more than the tired old tactics of caste and regional calculations. It waited all this while for the Trivendra Singh Government to provide some issue that could be exploited, but nothing substantial has emerged. The present government’s approach has been conservative, riding on the back of the Centre’s policies and schemes. Just implementing them effectively would give it enough clout with the voters when it is election time. And, of course, the Congress is nowhere near the BJP’s class in organisational skills. The BJP is already in full campaign mode, while the only activity seen in the Congress ranks is Harish Rawat’s invitations to various ‘daawats’ and a twitter campaign. The BJP has already asserted it will win sixty seats in the next election, up from fifty-seven and is working on that basis. The Congress is still struggling to rediscover its voice.