After announcing his resignation during a Cabinet meeting on Friday, Uttarakhand Labour Minister Harak Singh Rawat is likely to join Congress, sources told Republic TV. Having served as an MLA in both Uttar Pradesh as well as Uttarakhand, he has been a part of BSP and Congress in the past. Switching allegiance from the Sonia Gandhi-led party to BJP in 2017, he won from the Kotdwar Assembly constituency and became a Minister in the state government. Sources indicated that Rawat has held several meetings with Congress MLA Pritam Singh in the recent past.
He is reportedly upset over the BJP government allegedly dragging his feet on setting up a medical college in Kotdwar. While speculation was rife that MLA Umesh Sharma Kau who crossed over from Congress along with Rawat is also set to leave BJP, he rubbished this rumour. Speaking to Republic Bharat, Kau claimed that the Uttarakhand Labour Minister's grievances had been resolved after speaking to CM Pushkar Singh Dhami and the BJP high command. According to him, Dhami has given his approval to set up a medical college in Rawat's constituency.
The dissent in the BJP state unit resurfaced after leaders such as Harak Rawat, Satpal Maharaj, Dhan Singh Rawat and Bishan Singh Chuphal were snubbed for the CM's post. Sources had hinted earlier that Congress-turned-BJP MLAs such as Kunwar Pranav Singh 'Champion', Shaila Rani Rawat, Shailendra Mohan Singhal and Pradeep Batra are also seeking to join Congress. On October 11, another disgruntled BJP Minister Yashpal Arya joined the Sonia Gandhi-led party with his MLA son Sanjeev Arya.
In the 2017 Uttarakhand Assembly election, the Harish Rawat-led Congress government lost power after BJP won 57 seats in the 70-member House. Thereafter, Trivendra Singh Rawat served as the Chief Minister of the state until March 9, when he resigned because of a "collection decision" taken by the BJP top brass. His successor and Lok Sabha MP Tirath Singh Rawat's tenure as the CM was also short-lived and was replaced by Pushkar Singh Dhami as the Election Commission was unlikely to conduct a by-election owing to the COVID-19 situation.
AAP has tried to make inroads in the state in the last few months with a mass outreach campaign titled 'Uttarakhand me bhi Kejriwal', increasing online presence besides regular visits by high-profile leaders such as Manish Sisodia. However, non-BJP and non-Congress parties have failed to make any gains in Uttarakhand so far which is evident from the failure of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, SP and BSP. While AAP has declared Colonel (retd.) Ajay Kothiyal as its CM face, Congress is yet to confirm whether the Uttarakhand polls will be fought under ex-Chief Minister Harish Rawat's leadership.