Uttarakhand Chief Minister Rawat confident of Congress sweep

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Rawat confident of Congress sweep

Less than three months into his job as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Harish Rawat is facing an acid test to repeat the 2009 feat when the Congress won all the five Lok Sabha seats. He spoke to Shemin Joy of Deccan Herald.

Excerpts:

Congress seems up against all odds.

Our campaigning is going good although we started late. There is a close contest and I hope, if things go like this as it is today and if we are able to keep up the momentum, we may win all the five.

Congress got a shock when sitting MP Satpal Maharaj crossed over to BJP. Is it going to have an impact?

It does not have an impact. His wife (Minister Amrita) is campaigning for Congress while he is campaigning there (for BJP). Maharaj felt that he could woo three or four out of seven MLAs supporting Congress. That did not happen. Now, his wife remains in Congress. With this, half the impact is gone. I would say it is neutralised.

Do you fear about the stability of the state government?

BJP cannot do any mischief as numbers in the Assembly are like that. Many of these MLAs have won in a close contest. They would not risk their seats when winning again is not confirmed. As such there is no trouble for the government.

There are widespread complaints about the previous government, especially its management of the flood situation. Is it a baggage that is troublesome?

I am a new face now and I have started on a different style. Even if there is some baggage, at least, we have created a new image. Due to the initiatives we have taken, now there is a section among people who feel that this government should be given a chance.

You are the sitting MP in Hardwar. This time your wife is fighting the elections. How confident are you about her victory?

I am quite hopeful that our candidate wins. Haridwar is the only constituency where there is some effect of Muzaffarnagar riots. There is some similarities in the social system in Hardwar which resembles that of Muzaffarnagar.

The opponent is a former Chief Minister. What is your take on the BJP candidate Ramesh Pkhriyal Nishank?

The BJP candidate is a senior politician. But he is carrying some uncomfortable baggage with him also.

There is a talk about Modi wave. Is there such a wave here?

There is some curiosity among the orthodox section of the society. But they were voting for the Bharatiya Janata Party throughout their lives. There is nothing new.

There is enthusiasm among them but same way, there is a counter-enthusiasm at work among other social groups. The wave you are talking about, it is not there. There is as such no velocity in the argument in favour of Modi. Modi has created an artificial wave and it is based on campaign.

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