Harish Rawat wages two-pronged battle -- against BJP and his detractors within

The Congress has appointed Harish Rawat as chairman of the campaign committee and he is spearheading the campaign. He is seen as the natural claimant for the top post if the party comes to power but he is being checkmated by his detractors in the party.

The Congress in Uttarakhand seems to have the upper hand with BJP leaders joining the party in the state and now the party leaders are cautious and claiming stake for the top post. The Congress has appointed Harish Rawat as chairman of the campaign committee and he is spearheading the campaign. He is seen as the natural claimant for the top post if the party comes to power but he is being checkmated by his detractors in the party.

Now each group is looking suspiciously at the other group, each political move is being monitored by the other side keenly but Rawat has got the upper hand in the first round with the suspension of Kishore Upadhayaya and creating hurdles in Harak Singh Rawat's joining the party, though he has joined but not with fanfare. Rawat says, "the party has decided so he has no problem". But when asked about the post-election scenario, he said: "My focus right now is that the Congress wins the election."

The veteran in Uttarakhand politics knows that each political move by other groups may create hurdles post-election so, sources say, he has already reached out to probable dissenters and has sought their support. But sources say he is fighting a twin battle -- with the BJP and within the party. The outburst on social media was a reflection of the inter-party problems that he was facing at that time, and the party was compelled to resolve the matter, but the road ahead is not so smooth after the polls.

The other group led by a former state president is also not going to leave any stone unturned as the detractors are lobbying hard with the AICC office-bearers. The group led by Preetam Singh is not putting up a straight challenge but will wait for any opportunity to strike back.

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But Rawat has the trust and confidence of Sonia Gandhi knowing his capability, the party workers have sympathy as he missed the bus of Chief Ministership twice -- once to N.D. Tiwari and then to Vijay Bahuguna, however, he was later brought in replacing Bahuguna.

Harish Rawat rose from the grassroots level and understands the state better than anyone in the Congress party. He says "we will focus on local issues" as he knows that the BJP doesn't want to come into the arena on the basis of performance but on emotive issues.

The problem with the party is that it does not have any leader who is acceptable to both the Garhwal and Kumaon regions after the passing away of ND Tiwari and Indira Hridyesh.

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The state has two significant regions. Rawat is capable of balancing both, a party veteran said and also he has good acceptability among the minority population in the plains.