Congress on Saturday firmly refuted suggestions that Uttarakhand MLAs loyal to Pauri Garhwal MP Satpal Maharaj, who joined BJP, may quit the party and Harish Rawat Government faced the threat of being reduced to a minority.
“All our MLAs are intact. I have talked to all MLAs representing different segments of the Pauri Lok Sabha seat. All of them have asserted they are with the Congress. There is no possibility of their crossing over to any other side,” Pradesh Congress Vice President Suryakant Dhasmana said.
Rubbishing media reports that the Harish Rawat government could be reduced to a minority in the wake of Satpal Maharaj’s resignation, he said, “There is no threat to the present government in the state which enjoys a comfortable majority.”
Asked whether Maharaj’s switch-over to BJP would not harm the party’s poll prospects, Dhasmana admitted it was a “temporary setback” but in the same breath said it would have no effect on the party’s electoral fortunes.
On BJP’s demand for Chief Minister Harish Rawat’s resignation, he said it was totally uncalled for as the CM enjoys the confidence and support of majority of the members.
Senior state BJP leader Prakash Pant had on Friday demanded Rawat’s resignation saying his government had been reduced to a minority with Maharaj’s loyalists all set to cross over to the BJP.
The ruling Congress has 33 MLAs and has the support of seven-member PDF which consists of three BSP MLAs, three Independents and one UKD member in the 70-member Uttarakhand Assembly. Opposition BJP has 30 MLAs.
Criticising Satpal Maharaj for “striking a deal” with BJP, Dhasmana said what he had done was the worst example of “opportunist politics”.
“Maharaj has backstabbed the party which gave him ticket for the Lok Sabha seven times in 1989, 1991, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2008 and 2009 and to his wife Amrita Rawat to contest the assembly polls thrice. He should not have ditched the party in this manner.”
The Pauri Garhwal MP’s resignation from Congress on Friday sparked speculation that about half a dozen party MLAs bearing allegiance to him might follow suit, reducing the Harish Rawat government which was sworn in only last month to a minority.
However, some of the MLAs considered loyal to him including state Assembly deputy Speaker Anusuya Prasad Maikhuri, Ganesh Godiyal and Rajendra Bhandari denied the possibility of their switch-over to any other party terming Maharaj’s decision to quit the party as personal.
On the other hand, Maharaj’s resignation from the Congress to join the BJP is being seen as a major shot in the arm for the saffron party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in Uttarakhand.
“With Satpal Maharaj’s followers (political as well as religious) spread over many states, his joining the BJP will definitely boost the chances of the party in Lok Sabha polls not only in Uttarakhand but also in other states across the country,” a senior BJP leader here said.