Former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat on Friday said a message has been given by the party on the issue of chief ministerial face in the state by making him the head of the campaign committee ahead of the assembly polls next year. Rawat also asserted that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would not pose a challenge in the Uttarakhand assembly polls due early next year and alleged that the Arvind Kejriwal-led party was a “sharp shooter” for the BJP which takes “contracts” to target the Congress and its allies.
In an interview, Rawat also hit out at Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami over his announcements related to jobs and some other issues, saying that if he keeps on making such announcements, he will soon become a laughing stock as none of them were realistic. After assuming the post of chief minister, Dhami gave instructions to fill about 22,000 vacant posts in various departments and announced the creation of a large number of jobs in the future. Along with this, he also decided to constitute a high-level committee over the demands of pilgrimage priests regarding the ‘Char Dham Devasthanam Board’. He has also announced several other projects.
On the BJP appointing three chief ministers in Uttarakhand in a span of four-and-a-half years, Rawat said, “There cannot be a bigger insult to Uttarakhand than that the BJP giving three chief ministers in four-and-a-half years. We always gave one chief minister. Vijay Bahuguna failed in the Kedarnath tragedy, so he was punished by being removed. But the BJP should tell what crime Trivendra Rawat and Tirath Rawat had committed, why were they punished?” Rawat also said the next year’s assembly elections will not be his last. He emphasised that the party has given a message about the chief ministerial face by making him the head of the election campaign committee and the public had understood this. Asked whether the Congress has indirectly projected him as the chief ministerial face by making him the election campaign committee chairman, Rawat said, “I am grateful to the party for giving a message by making me the campaign committee chairman.” To a question whether this message has gone to the public, he answered in the affirmative. “We are old workers of the party, we have no option, we follow orders. Whatever the order of the party, I will obey,” he added.
Asked if the 2022 election would be his last election, he said, “Age has no limit. Man should have courage and I have courage now. When courage will not be there, we’ll see.” On factionalism in the Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress, Rawat said, “Our party is a lively party and different voices are raised. But the only thing in the mind of every worker is that to save Uttarakhand, we have to form the government. In this spirit, we are all working unitedly.” On the BJP bringing a ‘young vs old chief minister’ argument in the election discourse, Rawat said he was ready to compete even with a 20-22-year-old youth in the “race for development”. The Congress last month appointed Ganesh Godiyal resident of the Pradesh Congress Committee in Uttarakhand, replacing Pritam Singh who has been made the new Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader. Former chief minister Rawat was made the Campaign Committee chief for Uttarakhand, where assembly elections will be held early next year.