Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna is likely to resign on Friday to pave the way for formal selection of his successor. A meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) will be held on February 1 to elect its new leader. The Congress leadership has initiated an exercise to build a consensus among party MLAs for Union Minister Harish Rawat as Bahuguna’s successor.
On Thursday, AICC secretary and UP MLA Sanjay Kapur, co-incharge of Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee, reached Dehradun. Kapur said uncertainty over Bahuguna’s continuation would come to an end within 48 hours. “Please wait for one more day. I will speak on this issue tomorrow,” Kapur said.
Although Rawat is the obvious choice of the party high command in view of his political base in the state’s Garhwal and Kumaon regions, there are others like Finance Minister Indira Hridyesh and Civil Supplies Minister Pritam Singh trying to get the post. “The chances of Indira or Pritam getting the top post also depend on possible resistance against Rawat from Pauri MP Satpal Maharaj camp,” a source in the Congress said. According to him, Bahuguna, Rawat and Satpal mattered in selection of Congress party’s candidates in the 2012 assembly elections.
What’s good for the Congress camp is that the Progressive Democratic Front, a platform of non-Congress MLAs who support the state government, has adopted a neutral stand over the Congress’ plan to select its new CLP leader. “We have given support to the Congress party for development of the state. It can select its new leader,” Urban Development Minister and UKD MLA Pritam Singh Panwar said. Another Independent MLA Dinesh Dhanai expressed similar view. “Hamko chehre se matlab nahin. (We have nothing to do with any individual). The Congress has right to elect its new leader. We won’t intervene in the internal matter of the Congress party,” Dhanai said.
Apart from its 33 MLAs, Congress is supported by PDF, BSP MLAs, independent MLAs and an MLA of UKD. Sources said the Rawat camp is in constant touch with PDF. Earlier, PDF was said to be unhappy with the Congress plan to replace its leader in the state without consulting it.
Former Apple executive and Dwarka MLA Adarsh Shastri has also been included in the spokespersons’ list.