Harish Rawat’s dubious record in Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun : Harish Rawat was made chief minister of Uttarakhand on his tall claims that he would turn the fortunes around for the Congress, but the party lost all the five Lok Sabha seats in this small hill state, including his wife who contested from the Haridwar parliamentary constituency.

Now with reports that the BJP could pull the rug from under his feet any time, as his government runs on the support of seven MLA including three of the BSP, one of the UKD and independents, the chief minister has the dubious distinction of appointing all but two of his flock of 40 in official pos

File Photo: Harish Rawat with Rahul Gandhi at the Dehra Dun Rally
File Photo: Harish Rawat with Rahul Gandhi 

In fact, soon after the exit polls made it clear that the BJP led by its prime ministerial candidate Narender Modi would be forming the government at the centre and the Congress would at best win four of the five seats in Uttarakhand, Rawat started his exercise of placating the party legislators and those supporting him, lest they be poached by the BJP.

Even before the counting started, he nominated seven of them as parliamentary secretaries and after it was over and the results announced, on Sunday he appointed 10 more to positions of chairmen, vice chairmen or presidents of some board or the other. This shows the desperation he is in to maintain his flock together by giving them all some position of office.

It is perhaps for the first time in the history of the state that 95 per cent of the legislators supporting the government are holding a position of office. All but two of the 40 legislators have an office. The two who have been left out are former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna and his close associate, Subodh Uniyal.

The rumours doing rounds in political circles here is that the chief minister is also thinking in terms of placating Uniyal and may ask the party high command to make his the state party president, as the present incumbent is likely to be changed.

But the pertinent question is whether this exercise will prevent Harish Rawat from being dislodged by the BJP. Some of the independents are said to have a close rapport Satpal Maharaj, the godman who quit the Congress and joined the BJP shortly before the Lok Sabha elections and they may abide by his wishes.

Also the very fact that the BJP got a lead in 63 out of the 70 assembly segments in the state and there will be a Modi government at the centre may entice some of the independents to join the BJP bandwagon in the hope that they may get the party ticket in the next Vdhan Sabha elections.

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.

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