Congress leader Harish Rawat with his supporters at his residence in New Delhi. PTI Photo
Hectic efforts to placate a hurt Harish Rawat appeared to have worked on Wednesday with the rebel camp showing signs of reconciliation.
“I will not be the cause for any crisis either in Dehradun or in Delhi. My supporters wanted me to be chief minister but it is not necessary that all wishes are always fulfilled,” Harish Rawat said late Wednesday evening.
The statement comes as a major relief for new CM Vijay Bahuguna whose immediate task in now to save the government in the floor test, likely on March 29. Only 8 of the total 32 Congress MLAs were present during his swearing-in on Tuesday, while 17-19 have been camping in Delhi since Monday.
Sources said a compromise formula had been worked out with the warring group, comprising legislators cutting across caste lines.
According to the formula, Rawat’s supporters could be given key portfolios and there is a possibility that former CLP leader Harak Singh Rawat could be made the deputy CM.
Harish Rawat’s elevation to a cabinet rank has also not ruled out by the sources.
Though Harish Rawat maintained that he remains loyal to the Congress, his supporters smelt a conspiracy in his “forced exit” from the race. They saw a pattern in the central observers move to scuttle his chance of becoming CM a second time after 2002 when veteran ND Tiwari was preferred over him.
Majority of the MLAs, camping in Delhi, said they were shocked to hear Bahuguna’s name as CM after it was conveyed to them by the observers — Ghulam Nabi Azad, Birendra Singh and Suresh Pachauri — that the high command was in favour of appointing a legislator, not an MP to the top post.
The legislators also questioned the leadership’s decision to depute same set of observers who had overseen government formation in 2002.
“We were also told that in case the party opts for an MP it will be Harishji. But the observers conveyed to madam (Congress president Sonia Gandhi) that he has the support of just six MLAs,” said a legislator.