Uttarakhand CM issue : Cong in catch-22 situation

Dehradun : The Congress high command seems to be in a difficult situation, over announcing the name of Uttarakhand chief minister, though the central observer Ghulam Nabi Azad came here on Saturday and had one-to-one with the newly elected party legislators and four others who have promised support to the party in formation of the government.

What earlier seemed to be a mere formality is now becoming a tight rope walk for the Congress high command, as earlier the Congress legislature party here had passed a one-line resolution authorising party president Sonia Gandhi to name the chief minister. But apparently the matter has become ticklish with the three independents and lone UKD-P MLA giving different names.

Party sources here said that though the UKD-P legislator Preetam Panwar and independent Dinesh Dhanai are for Vijay Bahuguna (MP) as chief minister, the other two independents are divided on the issue. While Harish Chandra Durgapal is for Indira Hridesh (both belong to the Kumaon division), Mantri Prasad Naithani is for Satpal Maharaj.

There are fears that if any one of these four MLAs is antagonized over the selection of the chief minister, he could withdraw support to the party. Should this happen, the Congress will find itself on square one, without a simple majority and will have to seek the support of the three BSP legislators, which perhaps it does not want to do.

Besides, party sources said that there are also second thoughts within the party high command over having either a member of Lok Sabha, or even an outsider as the chief minister. The reason is quite obvious. Should it get an MP as chief minister, the MP will have to resign from Parliament and one vidhan sabha member will also have to resign from where the MP can seek election to the state assembly.

With the beating that it has taken in the recent elections, the party high command does not have the confidence of facing two by-elections on the trot in the state. As such the reasoning in the core group of the party is that a MLA of stature be made the chief minister so that the by-elections are avoided. But a unanimous choice is very unlikely, as there is a lot of inner bickering and differences within the party in the state.

Amongst the MLAs, the names that are doing the rounds are that of leader of the opposition, Harak Singh Rawat, state party chief Yashpal Arya and former minister Inidra Hridesh. However, should the party decide in risking by-elections and nominating an MP as the chief minister, the choice will fall between union minister Harish Rawat, Satpal

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

1 Comment

  • Obviously, since Harak Singh was opposition leader, and Yashpal Arya party chief, both should be in the running. However, Harak Singh has a controversial reputation as an angry and very physical leader.

    Selecting Yashpal Arya would be a historical breakthrough for Uttarakhand as it would mean that state’s would have as leader one of its original people for the first time in over a milliennium. The rivalry between Brahmin and Rajput has been at the heart of the tired old political dynamic in the state since Shankaracharya supplanted Buddhism in the region, and breaking the deadlock with a Dalit leader would be immensely significant.

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