Four days after emerging as the largest party in Uttarakhand with just one seat more than the BJP,the state Congress remains divided on who will be the new chief minister.
AICC general secretaries Ghulam Nabi Azad and Birendra Singh,in-charge of the partys affairs in Uttarakhand,met each of the Congresss 32 legislators separately to seek their choice for the chief ministers post. We are collecting the opinion of each legislator on who their leader should be. I will prepare a report and submit it to the party president. A decision on the matter is not likely today, said Azad.
Party sources said most of the MLAs had opted for two MPs as chief minister Union MoS for Labour and Employment Harish Rawat,who represents the Haridwar Lok Sabha seat,and Satpal Maharaj,MP from Garhwal.
Azad reportedly told the MLAs that the party would prefer an elected MLA as chief minister. Sources said the Congress wants to avoid bypolls,which would be necessary if either of the MPs is picked as chief minister.
A number of MLAs,including PCC chief Yashpal Arya and Leader of Opposition in the outgoing Assembly Harak Singh Rawat,left for Delhi in the evening,reportedly to parade the strength of their respective factions. Sources said Arya met Sonia Gandhi along with MP Vijay Bahuguna. Both reportedly harbour chief ministerial ambitions.
Source close to Arya said both Bahuguna and Satpal Maharaj have rallied behind him to counter Rawat,who was a clear frontrunner till the results were declared as the Congress did not do well in the Assembly constituencies that fall under his LS seat.
Meanwhile,PTI reported that Azad and Singh also met two of the three Independent MLAs Mantri Prasad Naithani and Dinesh Dhanai,both Congress rebels,as well as the lone Uttarakhand Kranti Dal MLA Pritam Singh Panwar. Harish Durgapal,an Independent and another Congress rebel from Lal Kuan,was not present due to the wedding of his son in Kumaon region.