Rawat drops Satpal Maharaj’s wife from cabinet

Dehra Dun : In what is being seen as yet another move to save his government, Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat today dropped tourism minister, Amrita Rawat from his cabinet of ministers. Reports are that he may induct independent MLA from Tehri, Dinesh Dhane into the cabinet.

Uttarakhand Tourism Minister, Amrita Rawat
Uttarakhand Tourism Minister, Amrita Rawat

It may be recalled that not only was the group headed by former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna demanding that Amrita Rawat be dropped from the cabinet, but agriculture minister and the Congress candidate from Pauri Lok Sabha consistuency, Harak Singh Rawat was also baying for her blood.

Incidentally, Amrita Rawat, is the wife of former Congress leader and godman, Satpal Maharaj, who had quit the party and joined the BJP in the wake of the Lok Sabha elections. However, Amrita who held the tourism portfolio refused to either quit the party or step down from the cabinet, saying that she is a loyal Congress person.

However, as Bahuguna has an axe to grind against Satpal Maharaj, as the latter was also in the race of chief minister of Uttarakhand and was opposed to the former, the group only got vocal against Amrita Rawat after the godman quit the Congress and joined the BJP.

The group was joined by Harak Singh Rawat, who alleged that Amrita’s husband and her two sons had worked against him in the recent Lok Sabha elections from the Pauri constituency and that she herself had not been very active in her campaigning for him.

With a berth falling vacant in the cabinet, reports were that the chief minister would in all likelihood induct Dinesh Dhane, the independent MLA from Tehri into the government. Dhane, who belongs to the group of BSP, UKD and independent MLAs supporting the Congress under the banner of PDF, had for long been demanding that he be given a cabinet berth. This move will not only placate Dhane, but the entire PDF.

But will the Satpal Maharaj loyalists amongst the independents and in the Congress legislature party react to the sacking of Amrita Rawat, only time will tell, even as the Harish Rawat government could be heading for stormy times in the coming days.

Meanwhile informed sources said that chief minister Harish Rawat had taken the party high command into confidence before taking the tourism portfolio away from Amrita Rawat. “Even the party high command had not liked the fact that Satpal Maharaj had stabbed the party in the back at a crucial juncture”, they added.

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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