New Delhi, Jan 19 : The Congress though has maintained till now that it will not declare anyone as a candidate for Chief Minister's post in Uttarakhand but it can't ignore Harish Rawat, the tallest leader in the state and under whose leadership the party is going to contest the polls as party insiders say that without the former Chief Minister the Congress may not be able to fight the BJP.
Since the formation of the state, Rawat has 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.
Called "Harda" Rawat, Harish Rawat is perceived as a fighter with 'never give up' attitude. Rising from the grassroots level he understands the state better than anyone in Congress party. He says "we will focus on local issues" as he knows that BJP doesn't want to come into the arena on the basis of performance but on emotive issues.
Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi knows his capability and that is why when he raised some issues it was resolved in no time, and now on the Harak Singh Rawat issue, it's him who has stalled the process and sources say that workers are happy with his decision. The suspension of Kishore Upadhaya is another example that the leadership is giving importance to his advice and suggestions.
The Party does not have any leader who is acceptable to both the Garwhal and Kumaon region and since the state has two significant regions, Rawat is capable of balancing both, a party veteran said.
Rawat, a veteran in politics, pitches himself against the BJP and does not consider incumbent Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami as an opponent. He says it's him vs the BJP. Listing local issues which are being highlighted by the Congress, he says, "unemployment is the biggest issue in Uttarakhand, and other issues are -- law and order, inflation, misgovernance, indiscriminate mining. Health and medical infrastructure has collapsed in the state, this is also a big issue.
When Rawat got upset with micro interference by Devendra Yadav, Incharge of Uttarakhand Congress, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra stepped in and spoke to him followed by meeting with Rahul Gandhi.
Before the meeting, Rawat had said, "it's time to rest, it has been enough." "Is this not strange? When we have to swim in the sea of election, the party organisation should extend supporting hand, but has rather turned its face the other way and is playing a negative role. I have to swim in the sea where the ruling party has released many crocodiles and my hands and legs are tied," he had said.
The Uttarakhand Congress is mired in factionalism with Preetam Singh leading a group backed by some in AICC, Rawat's supporters allege.