Congress' recent 3-0 win over BJP in Uttarakhand assembly bypoll have done a world of good to Chief Minister Harish Rawat whose stock within the party has risen considerably with prominent leaders including AICC chief Sonia Gandhi praising the party for what it has done in the hill state under his leadership.
The bypoll verdict which went overwhelmingly in favour of the Congress which retained one seat and wrested two from BJP, has definitely come as a silver lining for the party struggling hard to overcome the ignominy of losing all five Lok Sabha seats to the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls, political observers here feel. The ruling Congress recorded a big win in the bypoll to three assembly seats in Uttarakhand on July 25 retaining Dharchula seat which went to Chief Minister Harish Rawat who won by over 20,000 votes and wresting Doiwala and Someshwar seats from the BJP.
Congress' bypoll sweep in Uttarakhand has not only enthused party workers in the state but also lifted the drooping spirits of party leaders all over the country who look upon it as a reflection of the changing mood of the electorate.
Patting Rawat's back soon after he met her in Delhi after the polls, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi described the victory as a reflection of people's disillusionment with BJP-led NDA which has not kept the promises it made to people prior to Lok Sabha polls. "The bypoll verdict reflects people's disenchantment with BJP whose government at the Centre has failed to deliver on its promises.
"It is an indication that people are looking towards Congress once again with hope," she said when Rawat met her recently along with two other winning party candidates from Uttarakhand.
Haryana and Maharashtra are soon going to polls and the Congress now has certainly something up its sleeve in the form of the party's bypoll performance in Uttarakhand to be optimistic about its showing at the hustings in those states.
This was indicated when Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan recently said that the party will repeat in the western state what it did in Uttarakhand.
Rawat's own prestige as a leader of clout which took a knock when the party lost all seats to BJP in Lok Sabha polls, seems to have been retrieved at least partially with the impressive bypoll showing in the state. He seems in better control of things with the number of party MLAs in the state assembly going up to 35, just one short of a majority in the 70-members house. His growing stature in the politics of the state is evident in the manner in which he is handling the demand of cabinet berths from the rival Bahuguna camp.
Bahuguna camp is understood to be mounting pressure on Rawat for cabinet berths for its loyalists but after the party's bypoll showing the high command has given him total freedom to handle the matter in the manner he thinks fit, party sources said. The Bahuguna camp has also met the central party leadership demanding cabinet berths for its MLAs and a Rajya Sabha ticket for the former chief minister.
However, Rawat recently ruled out the possibility of a cabinet rejig which amounts to indirectly turning down the demand of the Bahuguna camp.