Union minister Harish Rawat,who lost in the race for Uttarakhand’s chief-ministership,is sulking and said to have resigned from the Union government.
Rawat,Minister of State for Agriculture and Parliamentary Affairs,sent his resignation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,Congress sources said.
We can only confirm that the resignation has been sent, said a Congress leader close to Rawat.
The move comes after the the Congress highcommand overlooked his claims for the chief minister’s post which has gone to another MP Vijay Bahuguna.
This is the second time that Rawat’s claim has been ignored as some 10 years ago N D Tiwari was made the chief minister almost at the 11th hour by the party leadership.
When asked whether he was planning to resign,Rawat declined to confirm or deny. I don’t want to make any comment, Rawat said.
Rawat,representing Hardwar constituency,was a strong contender for the post.
Amid reports that Rawat had resigned,chief minister-designate Bahuguna said the party was ready to handle any kind of crisis.
This is a pressure tactic. We will handle it, said Bahuguna.
The supporters of Rawat would boycott the swearing-in ceremony of Bahuguna.
With Bahuguna coming under pressure,he would now take oath alone,his close aide Sabodh Unniyal,an MLA from Narendra Nagar said.
Only Bahuguna ji will take oath today, he said.
Soon after Bahuguna was named as Uttarakhand chief minister,factional feud came to the fore in the Congress’ state unit with legislators close to Rawat protesting the move.
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.
In a bid to placate a sulking Rawat,Bahuguna,his sister and UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi met the Union minister at his residence. Sources had said 18 legislators owing allegiance to Rawat confabulated in dicussion with him till late last night.
Meanwhile,Congress leader Ambika Soni said while disappointments were natural,all should work towards facing challenges the organisation faces in the hill state.
“Our party is capable,the leadership is capable… one person had to be made the chief minister based on majority and that has been done. There is some disappointment among supporters. But keeping in mind the challenges and the fact that it was a keenly fought contest,leaders and supporters will try to take the party agenda forward,” the Union minister told reporters here.
When asked whether Rawat was planning to resign,Soni said this were mere “speculation”. “Supporters are disappointed over their leader not being made (CM)… the disappointment is understandable. But keeping in mind the challenges,I am sure leaders will not allow them to breach party discipline,” she said.
Downplaying the talk of Third Front,Soni said people who are talking about the Third Front should first explain what they want. “I get to hear a lot of things,but we cannot comment on everything,” she said.
Congress MP from Almora Pradip Tamta said he supported Rawat. After meeting the Union Minister,Tamta said “injustice” was done to Rawat in this matter which had led to great “disappointment” among party workers of the state.
However,he ruled out the possibility of any split in the party over the issue,saying Congress President Sonia Gandhi was their leader. “Nobody will break the party,” Tamta told reporters.
“We are only saying what has happened is an injustice to Rawat. He is the only leader acceptable to all in Uttarakhand and is the party’s face.” Meanwhile,some MLAs supporting Rawat’s candidature gathered outside the Union minister’s residence and engaged in slogan-shouting against the decision to appoint Bahuguna as new chief minister of the state.