Dehradun : After verbal spats between the leaders of the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress in the state, the stage is set for the ensuing vidhan sabha elections in Uttarakhand slated for Feb next year. And to set the ball rolling for the Congress, its AICC gen secretary Rahul Gandhi will address a rally at the parade ground on Friday.
Realising itâ€™s a do or die scenario for the Congress, as it could set the tone and tenor for the bigger battle in the adjoining Uttar Pradesh, from which this small mountain state was carved out 11 years ago; the party leaders are leaving no stone unturned to ensure the success of the rally. The state leaders are aware that the rally would also be litmus test of the popularity of the party in Uttarakhand.
Seating arrangements have been made for about 30,000 people in this sprawling ground, where Rahulâ€™s grand mother, Indira Gandhi also addressed a rally against the then son-of-the-soil Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, who was contesting for Lok Sabha from Garhwal, after quitting the Congress and forming the Congress for Democracy (CFD) with the late Babu Jagjivan Ram, almost three and a half decades back.
Old time Congress leaders of the state recall that the turn out at Indira Gandhiâ€™s public meeting was rather poor as compared to that of Bahuguna and fearing the masses could mete the same treatment to the proposed Rahil rally tomorrow in the wake of the differences of the UPA government with Anna Hazare on the Lokpal Bill, they do not want to take chances.
State party leaders have been made incharge of constituencies from where they have to ferry the crowds to make the rally a success, for there are fears that the turn out at the rally could also be a barometer for way things will move during the elections. A thin attendance at the rally would indicate that the mood of the voters is not with the party.
Though there is a lot of antagonism against the BJP government in the state, particularly as it is being held responsible for the large scale corruption that has percolated from the top echelons of bureaucracy to the lowest rung of babudom, but the Anna factor seems to be the stumbling block for the Congress. However, only time will tell the impact that Anna Hazare has made in the interiors of this mountain state.