Factional feud has come out in the open in the Congress’ Uttarakhand unit with legislators supporting Harish Rawat protesting the naming of Vijay Bahaguna as chief minister. But the Union minister appeared to rule out splitting in the party.
Raising slogans,angry supporters of Rawat,who gathered at his house last night,wanted to know why he was ignored for the top slot and egged him to split the party.
Emerging from the meeting,Rawat said,I am a Congressman,thorough and thorough.
In a bid to placate a sulking Rawat,Bahuguna,his sister and UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi met the Union minister at his residence.
Asked what transpired at the meeting with the brother-sister duo,Rawat said,They had come to console a loser.
Replying to a question as to how many MLAs backed him,Rawat declined to specify the number and merely said,All of them are Sonia Gandhi’s MLAs. They came to console me and I also consoled them. I’m a loser.
He declined to answer a question about his future course of action.
Asked if he would boycott today’s swearing-in ceremony of Bahuguna as chief minister,Rawat said: I have a sore throat and am not keeping well. Let’s see.
Asked about rumours that he has resigned from Union council of ministers,Rawat said,It’s news to me.
Sources said 18 legislators owing allegiance to Rawat confabulated discussion with him till late in the night.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi,who was authorised by party MLAs to take a decision in the matter,chose Bahuguna after taking views of party MPs and MLAs.
The choice of Bahuguna,a cousin of outgoing BJP chief minister B C Khanduri,was made by Gandhi after the party high command had grappled with the issue for days amid diverse pulls and pressures created by several claimants to the top post and demand by independent MLAs whose support is crucial to the Congress’ securing majority and formation of the government.
Bahuguna would be sworn in as new chief minister of Uttarkahand at a function in Dehradun this evening.
Governor Margaret Alva would administer the oath to 65-year-old Bahuguna.
In another development,Congress leaders led by Sabodh Unniyal,an MLA from Narendra Nagar,this morning,once again staked claim to form the new Congress government headed by Bahuguna.
With majority of Congress MLAs still camping in New Delhi,a couple of MLAs led by Unniyal handed over the letter from party general secretary Chaudhary Birednra Singh,which states that Bahuguna has been nominated as the new leader of the CLP and should be invited to take oath of the post of chief minister,Raj Bhavan sources said.