In the run up to Lok Sabha polls, where every seat counts for the political future of its vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the Congress on Saturday anointed Union minister Harish Rawat as the chief minister of Uttrakhand. Earlier, the party forced “non-performing” Vijay Bahuguna to resign, choosing political compulsions over loyalty. The tiny Himalayan states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh are the last Congress bastions in north India.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi approved the name of Rawat (65) after she was authorised to name the Congress Legislature Party(CLP) leader, in a one-line resolution adopted its meeting in Dehradun. In the 70-member assembly, Congress has 33 members and has the support of seven-member PDF including three BSP, one UKD and three independents.
Bahuguna was chosen to lead the state after 2012 polls as the loyalty of Rawat towards 10 Janpath were dubbed doubtful. Ironically two years later, Congress leaders now pin hopes on “doubtful” Rawat, who has lost chief ministerial race twice in the past to revive political fortunes in the state. Sources close to Rawat told dna, he has promised to ensure victories in three Lok Sabha seats out of total five in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, to shore up fortunes of Rahul.
Party sources confirmed that besides performance, it was a ground report predicting a rout for the party in all five Lok Sabha seats that led the decision to change Bahuguna. His appointment was part of party’s long-term plan to appease estranged Brahman voters.