DAINIK NATION BUREAU
Dissidents of congress are flexing their muscle against the two titans of the state party – chief minister Harish Rawat who is the poster boy of the ruling party for the poll-bound state and the Pradesh Congress Committee president Kishore Upadhyay who has been trying hard to steer the party to victory has lent the February 15 election with an added interest. Notably, two party leaders- Shilpi Arora and Santosh Kashyap- have left the party in protest against the CM plunging into the contest from Haridwar rural and Kichha seat in Udham Singh Nagar district while Aryendra Sharma who had his eyes fixed on Sahaspur seat in Dehradun district has turned rebel after the party fielded the PCC president in Sahaspur constituency. While Arora threatened to contest from Kichha seat as an Independent Singh is likely to jump into the poll fray from Sahaspur constituency as an Independent too to spite the prospects of the official candidate. Political analysts opine that the ruling party might pay dearly if the strength of the dissidents is underestimated.
Arora is one of the close confidantes of the former Uttarakhand Congress in-charge and former Union cabinet minister Birendra Singh. She contested election from Gadarpur in Udham Singh Nagar district during 2012 election and lost to BJP candidate Arvind Pandey. Eyes trained on Kichha seat this time, she lost her cool once the list was announced. Those close to her said that she had anticipated that she would be given a short shrift because of her loyalty to a leader other than the chief minister. “Harish Rawat is not kind to those who are not loyal to him,” said a close aide of Arora. Now, what is interesting is how BJP would use the intra-party fissure in the Congress to close in on the chief minister.
Upadhyay and Rawat continued sparring for some time over the mode of accommodation the party would adopt vis-à-vis the five PDF MLAs. Unaware of what the high command would decide on the ticklish matter, Upadhyay shifted his focus from Tehri seat from where he tasted defeat at the hands of Dinesh Dhanai who contested as an Independent and won. Later, Dhanai became a member of the PDF and became a cabinet minister. Upadhyay’s focus then fell on Sahaspur seat. “Things were murky as the AICC vice- president Rahul Gandhi gave a free hand to Harish Rawat regarding the matter. Rawat remaining inclined to give freedom to the PDF MLAs to choose whether to contest as Congress candidates or as Independents, Upadhyay steeled his resolve to test the electoral water from Sahaspur constituency,” said a party insider.
However, the intensity of the rebellion by Aryendra Sharma against Upadhyay being fielded as the candidate for Sahaspur was unexpected for the party brass. Despite the senior leaders engaged in placating him, he is still in a sulk and is sticking to his resolve to stand as an Independent by way of teaching the party a lesson. His loyalists went berserk, ransacking the Congress Bhawan in Dehradun soon after the poll list was announced..