INTERVIEW | ‘BJP tactics — Saam, Daam, Dand, Bhed’

Congress severely crippled by I-T dept’s action on its accounts, says former Uttarakhand CM and Union minister Harish Rawat.
INTERVIEW | ‘BJP tactics — Saam, Daam, Dand, Bhed’

Harish Rawat is often described as the patriarch of Uttarakhand politics. With six decades of experience in politics as a Congress leader — a block pramukh to chief minister and a Union minister — he knows the political pulse of the state. While it remains to be seen how the Congress will perform in the elections due in the state on April 19, Rawat candidly spoke to Narendra Sethi on a range of issues affecting his party and the state. Excerpts:

How do you see a series of defections by Congress leaders in Uttarakhand?

BJP is working on three fronts in these elections. One is luring the adversaries by money and position; second is misusing government machinery and the third is pressure tactics. Let me tell you about a very big leader who illegally built a resort on the land of 52 Nali Gram Sabha during the Congress rule. Today his farmhouse is in the ‘danger zone’, so he was forced to join the BJP.

I received a call from a former state minister that he was offered Rs 10 crore. There are individuals and leaders whose businesses are being affected and they are unable to sustain themselves, so they are reluctantly joining the BJP.

What is driving this significant migration?

The enforcement agencies should not be held responsible alone. The BJP has embraced Chanakya Niti, employing tactics of ‘Saam, Daam, Dand, Bhed’. The significant influence and coercive capabilities of these agencies are being blatantly utilized in the electoral process. Democracy appears to be under siege, with a palpable sense of suffocation prevailing. For the first time in Uttarakhand’s history, a climate of intense political rivalry is overshadowing the celebration of democracy.

Why are your star campaigners missing? The BJP has already held rallies of PM Modi and party chief JP Nadda…

After consulting our colleagues, it has been felt that Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, and national president Kharge ji are our most valued campaigners. The logistics of their visits to various locations remain uncertain, but I am optimistic that these prominent campaigners will soon be in Uttarakhand.

I can only empathise with some of the Congress leaders who left the party to join the saffron camp. One of them is Dinesh Agarwal. He once held a dominant position in the Dharampur assembly constituency and wielded significant influence. He was the unchallenged leader in that region. It was disheartening to see him queuing up to the BJP camp and seeking a position for himself.

Many Congress stalwarts, including Pritam Singh, Yashpal Arya and yourself, chose to remain detached from contesting in these elections. What led to this decision?

I opted not to contest due to physical discomfort from a recent accident. I suggested my son Virendra as a potential candidate. Regarding other prominent leaders like Yashpal Arya, Karan Mahara, and Pritam Singh, media reports have misconstrued their absence as a personal choice. In reality, it was a strategic decision made at a higher level for them to oversee election coordination across Uttarakhand.

The Congress has a huge problem of money in the election. What are the obstacles you are facing?

This is a very big issue; we are struggling badly due to resource crunch. The ruling party is creating pressure on all those industrial houses who supported Congress. The sealed accounts of the party make it difficult to function in the time of elections.

In the current elections, Kumari Selja, the Congress in-charge of Uttarakhand, is a notable absentee from the campaign programmes. Why?

Not at all, Selja is completely updated on every issue of Uttarakhand. Yes, it is definitely a matter that she is also contesting her election, so time can be a factor with her. But she is keeping an eye on every aspect of Uttarakhand.

What major challenges do Congress candidates face in their respective Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttarakhand?

The BJP is employing various strategies to exert pressure on our candidates in all five Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttarakhand. For instance, the Income Tax Department recently issued a notice to Ganesh Godiyal, a prominent Congress candidate from Pauri, seemingly with the sole intention of causing mental distress. However, I am confident that the discerning citizens of will respond resolutely to these oppressive actions by the ruling party on April 19, ensuring that democracy prevails.

Do you think the electoral challenge has become very difficult?

I can only emphasize that the Congress, in it’s lone battle against the BJP, is doing everything to win. These challenges have collectively created a complex electoral landscape for the Congress, necessitating a focused and strategic approach to surmount the obstacles and secure a positive outcome.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express