Congress In Catch-22 Situation Over FIR Against Uttarakhand Minister

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Dehra Dun : It is not only chief minister Harish Rawat, but the Congress high command too finds itself in  a catch-22 situation, following the filing of an FIR by the Delhi police in a complaint registered by a 30-year-old woman alleging molestation by Harak Singh Rawat, a cabinet minister in the Uttarakhand government.

It has not only given a shipping handle to the opposition BJP in this small mountain state against the ruling party in the wake of the Lok Sabha election due later this year, but puts the Congress in a tight spot on asking the accused minister to quit his cabinet post. But should it do, it stands to agonize the Rajput (Thakurs) community that forms a majority chunk of voters in Uttarakhand.

FIR against Uttarakhand Minister

FIR against Uttarakhand Minister

Should the party not take any action against Harak Singh Rawat and let him continue as minister with cabinet rank in the Harish Rawat government in the state, it will make people believe that the call for empowerment and emancipation of women being made by the Congress vice president, Rahul Gandhi is only a façade to lure the female voters for the Lok Sabha elections.

Though if police reports are to be believed, the women who has accused the minister of the molestation has yet to depose to the police and give a statement before a magistrate in the court, but the state unit leaders of the BJP and Uttarakhand are already baying for the minister’s blood. In fact leader of the opposition, Ajay Bhatt has demanded that the accused minister should resign so that he does not influence the probe that may take place.

Members of the AAP party in the capital city of this small mountain state went a step further and burnt the effigy of Harak Singh Rawat. They maintained that the allegations leveled against the cabinet minister were of a serious nature and had tarnished the image of this small mountain state, which has the pseudonym ‘abode of the Gods’.

They claimed that this was not the first time that Harak Singh Rawat had been in the midst of such allegations, adding that some time back a female had alleged that he was the father of a child that she had borne, because of which Harak Singh had to quit from the Narain Dutt Tewari cabinet. However, a CBI probe was later held in the matter and the premier investigation agency had given the minister a clean chit.

But what is more important to the Congress high command is can it afford to agonise the large Rajput (Thakurs) community in this small mountain state.

Though, former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, a Brahmin, was replaced by Harish Rawat as chief minister on the plea to expedite the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the upper areas of the that that was ravaged in the ‘tsunami’ of June 16-17 last year, but political pundits here believe that the main reason was to appease the Thakurs by having a Thakur chief minister.

They claim that almost 45 per cent of the electorate in this small mountain state is of Thakurs and they were against the Congress for the primary reason that ever since Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh, the Congress did not give a thakur chief minister.

The first Congress chief minister, Narain Dutt Tewari was a Brahmin and the second, Vijay Bahuguna also happens to be a Brahmin, which was taken exception to by the large Thakur population of Uttarakhand.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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