New Delhi: The Congress is all set to release its list of candidates for the forthcoming Assembly elections in Uttarakhand. The screening committee has met several times over the past week and has almost zeroed in on candidates in 45 Assembly segments out of the 70 in the state. The main issue that is plaguing the Congress is possible desertion of leaders from the party if they do not get tickets.
Uttarakhand Mahila Congress chief Sarita Arya has already made it clear that if she does not get a ticket from Nainital, she will move to the BJP. Ms Arya is a veteran Congress leader who was the MLA from Nainital from 2012 to 2017, when she lost to Sanjeev Arya of the BJP.
Interestingly, Sanjeev Arya and his father Yashpal Arya have both come back to the Congress and are demanding a ticket from Nainital. This development clearly puts the Congress on the backfoot.
Meanwhile, the Congress has already stripped its former state unit chief Kishor Upadhyay from all his posts as he was seen moving around with BJP leaders. Both Sarita Arya and Kishor Upadhyay are in touch with the central leaders of the BJP. Mr Upadhyay was chairman of the Uttarakhand Congress Coordination Committee, member of the state Congress core committee, and the Uttarakhand Congress Pradesh Election Committee. Sensing the situation going out of hand, the high command has appointed Mohan Prakash as the senior observer for the Assembly elections in the state.
Former state chief minister and senior Congress leader Harish Rawat has also said that he is not keen on contesting the Assembly polls and instead will oversee election management, though he also added that the decision of the party’s central election committee will be final. Last month Mr Rawat, who is also the chief of the campaign committee, had a showdown with AICC in-charge for the state Devendra Yadav, and the party high command eventually had to intervene to sort the matter out. Insiders claim that the list of Congress candidates is almost ready and can be released at any time, but with the desertions taking place the party is adopting a cautious approach.