Even as the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Pritam Singh has embarked on the second phase of his ‘Parivartan Yatra’ in Kumaon region the distance the former chief minister Harish Rawat has maintained so far from the yatra has underlined the deep- rooted schism gnawing at the party.
The second phase of the Parivartan Yatra was kicked by Pritam Singh at Katima on Tuesday. It was expected that Harish Rawat would attend the yatra, given the fact that the areas it would travel through are considered his strongholds. He, however, has chosen to give it short shrift in the second phase too. With Harish Rawat keeping a studied distance, Pritam is being accompanied by the leader of the Opposition (LoP) Indira Hridayesh during the yatra. Former Member of Parliament (MP), K C Singh Bawa, former minister Tilak Raj Behed and senior leader Mahendra Pal Singh are also taking part in the yatra.
Interestingly, the office of Harish Rawat has released his itinerary for Thursday according to which he would take part in a programme organised at a school in Jhabreda in Haridwar district. It is pertinent to mention here that the former CM who is also the AICC general secretary has extensively covered Kumaon region during his just-concluded ‘ Myar Mait’ Yatra. The timing of Harish Rawat’s yatra was questioned as it just preceded the PCC president’s yatra. Observers say that it makes it clear that the veteran leader has decided to chart his own course in the realm of state politics. It is quite apparent that the state Congress is a divided house with two prominent camps operating at cross purposes. “It is, however, likely that the two factions-one loyal to Harish Rawat and the other to Pritam Singh and LoP Indira Hridayesh- would be coerced into working in tandem by the party high command in the run-up to the general election. As things stand now, the two camps burying the hatchet and cosying up to each other seems a bleak possibility, given the animosity that is prevailing deep,” said a long-time state watcher.