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In Battle for Uttarakhand, Congress' Harish Rawat Says 'Party Is the CM Face'

"If given the responsibility, I will fulfil it in full measure," said Rawat.

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Cameraperson: Ribhu Chatterji

Video Editor: Rajbir Singh

Senior Editor: Somya Lakhani

"I am not a sanyasi (ascetic) in politics, if given the responsibility, I will fulfil it in full measure," former Uttarakhand Chief Minister and Congress leader Harish Rawat told The Quint.

When asked why the grand old party had not declared its chief ministerial face in Uttarakhand, Rawat, who's spearheading the Congress' campaign in the poll-bound hill state said that it was the "party which is the CM face."

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Why did your seat change from Ramnagar to Lalkuan?

"It's the party's decision. In fact, the Lalkuan seat and those like Haldwani are at the heart of Uttarakhand's Kumaon region. The party has strategically decided that I contest from the foothills. So, instead of the foothills of Ramnagar, they have decided that I contest from the foothills of Lalkuan."

Was the Ramnagar seat shuffled because some other Congress leader wanted it?

"No, that's just propaganda. The party evaluated the situation after voices were raised, which is normal following ticket distribution. So the party repackaged the seats and I was asked to come to Lalkuan. I didn't come to Lalkuan without asking the local leaders here."

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What is your take on the alleged hate speech made at the Dharam Sansad in Haridwar?

"It was a big sin. Our Ganges is a holy place, it offers peace to everyone. Not just one, let there be many Dharam Sansads there, but let no anti-religious speeches be delivered there. The hate speeches have hurt the sentiments of Haridwar. I thank the ascetics and the Akhada Parishad for condemning the remarks."

The Congress won only 11 seats in the previous election and you had failed to win the two seats you had contested from. What has changed this time?

"In 2017, slogans in favour of the 'double-engine government' were raised. Thinking that if a single-engine Harish Rawat could work so much for the state, people fell for the double-engine wrestler in the fray. Contrasts were drawn between kabristan and shamshaan and attempts were made to create a sense of conflict between Diwali and Eid. In simple words, they tried to create a wall between Hindus and Muslims. Uttarakhand got swayed by the political discourse in Uttar Pradesh. But two years later, the people of this state realised their mistake. The favorable winds for the Congress this time are because of the work done by our government between 2014 and 2016."

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