Garhwal region completely ignored by Uttarakhand Congress, party leaders charge that high command ignorant about even geographic reality
Dehradun, April 11
The announcement of new president of the Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee, Leader of Opposition and Deputy Leader of Opposition in the state assembly by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) has surprised not only the party rank and file but has also again triggered a war of words amongst warring Congress leaders further deepening the fissures in the embattled Congress party in the hill state of Uttarakhand.
The AICC has announced the name of Karan Mahra, a former Congress legislator who recently lost the state assembly elections from Ranikhet assembly segment of Kumoan division. Yashpal Arya, a legislator from Bazpur in Udham Singh Nagar, who re-joined Congress after quitting as a minister from the BJP state government has been made the Leader of Opposition. Yashpal Arya, a protégé of former veteran Congress leader N.D.Tewari, is a Dalit leader from Kumoan region. He had joined the BJP along with nine other Congress legislators in a revolt against then Chief Minister Harish Rawat in 2016. He and his son Sanjeev Arya, won their respective elections in the 2017 state assembly polls from Bazpur and Nainital assembly segments. Yashpal Arya was made a cabinet minister in the BJP government but he quit along with his son in 2021 before the state assembly polls. While yashpal Arya won by a narrow margin from Bazpur , his son lost the election from Nainital assembly segment. The third appointment made by AICC is that of Bhuvan Kapri, legislator from Khatima, who defeated Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on his own home turf. Bhuvan Kapri, a working President of the outgoing state Congress executive has been made Deputy Leader of Opposition in the state assembly.
The Congress party which was hopeful of getting a majority in the recently concluded state assembly polls was thoroughly drubbed by the ruling BJP. The Congress could won only 19 seats while the ruling BJP sailed to 47 seats creating a record of winning the state assembly elections for the second time in a row.
The announcement made by the AICC possibly on the recommendations of state general secretary incharge Devendra Yadav and another senior leader Avinash Pandey, who was sent earlier to coordinate elections and then to look into the reasons of the resounding defeat, points towards utter naivety bordering on ignorance of even geographic realities of the state.
Interestingly, all the three positions have been given to leaders belonging to Kumoan region completely ignoring the entire Garhwal together with Haridwar district. None from Garhwal had been given any position. It has been a tradition with both the traditional political rivals namely Congress and BJP to balance both the region and the caste equations in respect of government and party positions in the state. It has been for the first time that Congress has taken an extreme step of completely ignoring the Garhwal region from it’s scheme of things. The ruling BJP did exceptionally well in Garhwal region winning 34 out o total 41 seats in the recently concluded state assembly elections paving the way for the party to regain power.
If Pushkar Singh Dhami is Chief Minister hailing from Kumoan, then Madan Kaushik from Haridwar is the state unit president of Uttarakhand BJP. Similarly when, Pritam Singh was President of Uttarakhand Congress from Garhwal region, Indira Hariydesh was the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly. Both the parties have tried to give fair representation to both the Kumoan and Garhwal regions in the party as well as in the government. These parties had also tried to do balancing act between the two dominant castes namely ‘Thakurs’ and ‘Brahmins’ for these positions.
The statement by Avinash Pandey, has further miffed former state President and legislator from Chakrata who offered to resign from state assembly. Pritam Singh has taken offence to the statement from Avinash Pandey that infighting amongst Uttarakhand Congress was the main cause of defeat of the party at the hustings.
Pritam Singh who was also unhappy with the announcement of new positions by the AICC said that the party should hold an inquiry into the allegations of infighting and if proved that he was involved in any such activity, he offered to resign from his assembly seat. “ None seems to be happy with the new dispensation and it clearly indicate that the party high command is not willing to learn elementary lessons of politics,” said a senior Congress leader on condition of anonymity.
The Congress leaders argue that if a defeated leader such as Karan Mahra is chosen then what was wrong with Ganesh Godiyal who also lost from Srinagar assembly segment of Pauri Garhwal and was asked to quit following party defeat. Both, the Harish Rawat and Pritam Singh camps in Uttarakhand Congress seems unhappy with the recent appointments.