Deputy President William Ruto about-turn to work on the possibility of working with former NASA principals Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula is causing anxiety in the Mt Kenya region over fears he is likely to backtrack on his pledge to pick a running mate from the region in the upcoming general election.
So tense is the situation that some of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) hopefuls for the number two slot have been forced to go back to the drawing board to campaign for the positions they had opted to abandon for the mouthwatering position.
This was reinforced on Monday January 3 after UDA secretary-general Veronica Maina confirmed the duo had been invited for talks ahead of the August 9 General Election.
Maina said the revamped outfit was awaiting a response from the two former NASA leaders who were allied to former Prime Minister Raila Odinga in the 2013 and 2017 polls.
“In case they accept it, we will listen to them because, as UDA, we are a democratic party that does not give demands. Yes, anyone who wants to support us has to join UDA, but we will listen to ANC and Ford Kenya,” Maina is quoted to have told one of the local dailies.
Among those from the Mt Kenya who have been touted as Ruto’s possible running mate are Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, Meru’s Mithika Linturi and Muranga Senator Irungu Kangata.
Since he started making inroads in Mt Kenya region, Ruto has heavily invested his time and resources in keeping the vote-rich region under wraps for the past nine years, and has his eye fixed on the mountain for a running mate.
Last week, in an interview, the DP hinted he was pursuing Mudavadi so they could join forces to scuttle Raila’s fifth presidential bid.
It has now emerged that Ruto’s strategists are becoming impatient with the Mt Kenya running mate’s issue and this has seen his Rift valley supporters pressure him to explore other options.
The latest reports that Ruto has formally reached out to Amani National Congress (ANC) leader and his Ford Kenya counterpart for 2022 pre-coalition talks has left tongues wagging in Mt Kenya region that the DP may be forced to sacrifice the running mate position meant for the region incase Mudavadi and Wetangula yield to his demands.
“The lukewarm approach with which those who are perceived as possible running mates from Mt Kenya are giving the idea of deputizing our party leader has left him with no option but to explore a possibility of coalition talks with new partners. That is why you are seeing the DP’s latest overtures to the likes of Mudavadi and Wetangula so that we have a plan B in case our initial plans hit the wall,” said a senior UDA official.
The five Mt Kenya politicians from whom Ruto could pick as his running mate have since retreated back to their backyards to consolidate votes for governor and MP’s seats.
Interestingly with the exception of Gachagua and Kangata who have occasionally accompanied the DP on a few trips outside the Mt Kenya region, the rest of the possible running mates have spent more time on their backyards seeking to salvage their political careers. Waiguru and Kindiki have remained on the ground in Kirinyaga and have never accompanied the DP outside Mt Kenya.
Kangata at first looked like a perfect choice for Ruto, but his case is becoming increasingly complicated as the clock ticks towards August 9, 2022 General Election.
He has not shown keen interest in the position and word has it that he is still keen on the Muranga governorship race where he is seeing chances of victory.
“Waiguru feels with the exit of Wangui Ngirici from the UDA she is almost certain of the party’s ticket for the gubernatorial race. She appears content to go for the governorship which all along may have pushed her out of Jubilee for fear of an aggressive party primary contest,” the source further told News Today.
The split in the vote-rich Mt Kenya region between the dominant west and east also continues to complicate Ruto’s camp in its search for a running mate in the 2022 State House calculation.
Ruto’s allies from Mt Kenya east say while they agree that Mt Kenya has the best chance to produce the DP’s running mate, that person should come from their side of the mountain, saying they had supported the west counterparts for far too long.
News Today has learnt that Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, his Tharaka Nithi counterpart Kithure Kindiki of Tharaka Nithi who have all along been eyeing the position are said to have confined their ambitions within the larger Meru region.
Kindiki is busy on the ground in Tharaka Nithi in a bid to woo his supporters in his quest to unseat incumbent Muthomi Njuki. The Senator appears to have been jolted into action after the acrimonious reception he received in Tharaka Nithi during Ruto’s tour of the region on November 18 last year.