‘Uttarakhand polls contest between Harish Rawat and BJP’s misrule’ (IANS Interview)

The Assembly elections in Uttarakhand are a contest between Harish Rawat and BJP’s misrule, former Chief Minister of the state Harish Rawat told IANS in an exclusive interview.

The Himalayan state is set to go to the polls on February 14. The counting of votes will taken up on March 10.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

Q. Who do you think is the contest with — Pushkar Singh Dhami vs Harish Rawat or BJP vs Congress?

A. This contest will be Harish Rawat vs the BJP. Because Pushkar Singh Dhami is just a small pawn, whom the party has put forward to dodge anti-incumbency and to avoid questions being raised within the BJP.

Q. Are you sure that you will come back to power with full majority?

A. Yes, we will come back with a very good majority, and we have told the voters that if you are happy with us, then vote so that we can easily form the government and give you a good government.

Q. So can we say if Congress comes to power, then Harish Rawat is going to be the next Chief Minister of Uttarakhand?

A. Right now all I can say is that a Congress person is going to be the next Chief Minister in March, and it is my responsibility to ensure this. But who will be the Chief Minister, party will decide.

Q. Have the internal bickerings in the party for quite some time ended? Or is it still going on?

A. There is no tension in the party, but whatever it is, it will not affect the party’s prospects in the elections. That much I can say.

Q. BJP says that PM Modi has a lot of influence in Uttarakhand, Harish Rawat will not be able to overcome that. What do you think?

A. Look, if Modi ji was contesting the election here then people would be comparing Modi ji with Harish Rawat. People here have to choose their chief minister, and in the last five years people have been disappointed. A double engine government was formed on the call of PM Modi, but that government failed on all fronts. Now if Modi ji apologizes to the people that he made a mistake then, people may consider his appeal. But people are saying that if double engine government comes again, it will be a disaster. That’s why people are now looking towards Harish Rawat.

Q. What do you think about digital campaign, will you be able to use it, that too in a place where there is no good internet connectivity in many areas?

A. Look, we will face all the challenges which come our way. The challenge may come in any form. I have also started addressing digitally. Yesterday I did the first digital address, in which more than 20,000 people joined. Even today I am holding an election meeting in Haldwani. We are adapting ourselves to the emerging challenges.

Q. You say that Dhami is a pawn, the election will be between BJP and Harish Rawat. That is, between Harish Rawat and Modi?

A. The election will be against the BJP which has imposed this useless government in Uttarakhand.

Q. On what issues you will be fighting the election?

A. Obviously unemployment is a big issue in Uttarakhand, yet there are other issues — law and order, inflation, misgovernance, indiscriminate mining. Health and medical infrastructure has collapsed in the state, this is a big issue. The issues are many, the thing is that development has been stalled for five years. And the state’s economy has completely collapsed.

Q. The people of your party say that under Harish Rawat, small leaders do not get opportunities, they are not able to move ahead, what would you like to say?

A. This is not true. I have helped all the leaders of this generation to move forward from time to time. So it’s not like that, and there are challenges in politics, and everyone has to face this. And I want to wish all my friends the best that they should face the challenges bravely.




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