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Tantrum Card


Uttarakhand has increasingly become a state where people vote largely on ideological lines. This has naturally diminished the clout of individual leaders. Former Chief Minister and Congress leader Harish Rawat is feeling the pinch. Despite the BJP’s dominance, there are enough people who will vote for Congress – this became evident from the turnout at Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Dehradun, recently. Even in its worst performance during the last assembly election in 2017, the Congress managed to get 33.5 percent of the votes, against the BJP’s 46.5 percent, indicating a swing of around 13 percent in favour of the latter. However, the BJP gained largely from other parties’ votes, as the dip in the Congress voteshare was a mere 0.29 percent.

Harish Rawat’s lament at being ignored by his party High Command needs to be seen in this context. There really is no need for the party to project him as its unquestioned leader in the state. Taking a page from Navjot Singh Sidhu’s book, he is upping the ante to the point where his supporters are even threatening to ‘take their own path’. Considering that he has been very busy and successful at keeping himself in the limelight over social media since being ousted from power, it will only require a tweet for him to take a different direction. While the matter is likely to be ‘sorted out’ at the meetings of the state’s leaders with the High Command to be held from Friday in Delhi, the factionalism is not likely to go away.

However, if Harish Rawat does an Amarinder and forms his own political outfit, he could set up an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party. This would upset the present configurations and only benefit the BJP. It is unlikely but does remain in the realm of possibilities.

With or without Harish Rawat, the Congress can expect to increase its numbers in the assembly. Constituencies affected by the recent farmers’ agitation could swing its way. In a political situation where the BJP is playing the youth card with Chief Minister Dhami, it would make no sense to present a seventy plus veteran as the change Uttarakhand needs. In the end, all the fuss might just be about Harish Rawat maneuvering to get as many tickets for his supporters as possible; though he is skating quite close to the edge and might end up overplaying his hand. Nobody, though, is losing any sleep worrying about how things will turn out.