Factional feud in Congress over the chief ministerial candidate in Uttarakhand on Tuesday deepened with senior party leader Harak Singh Rawat favouring sulking Union minister Harish Rawat, saying he would chalk out a new strategy.
"The future of new government in Uttarakhand is very bleak. It can continue only for 10-15 days. Harish Rawat is credited for reviving Congress in Uttarakhand but (Vijay) Bahuguna has no contribution in the state and has been imposed on us," Harak, who was elected as MLA from Rudraprayag, said over phone from New Delhi.
His move to side with Rawat assumes significance since he was also a top contender for the CM's post.
When asked whether the new leader should have been an elected MLA, Harak said, "Yes, the party high command must give weightage to the MLAs first. In case the party high command had to chose from the MPs, then the first right to become the chief minister was of Harish Rawat."
He also indicated that he would boycott the swearing-in ceremony of Bahuguna.
"I will not remain present in the swearing-in ceremony as I am in New Delhi," Harak said.
The decision to nominate Bahuguna is a body blow to the sentiments of the people who wanted a senior party leader to become the chief minister, he claimed.
On whether he was offered a ministerial berth in the Bahuguna cabinet, Rawat said since he had held ministerial ranks in the previous governments and was the leader of the Opposition, the ministerial berth was not a big deal for him.
"I want to work as an ordinary MLA and work for the welfare of the people," he said.
Earlier on the day, unfazed by the revolt by Union minister Harish Rawat, Congress high command on Tuesday ruled out any re-think over the issue of chief ministership in Uttarakhand declaring that party MP Vijay Bahuguna will take oath as the new Chief Minister today as scheduled.
Protesting against being overlooked, Rawat sent his resgination from the Union government as Minister of State for Agriculture and Parliamentary Affairs.
Vijay Bahuguna, who was named the chief minister by the Congress President Sonia Gandhi last night, told reporters that he alone would take oath as Chief Minister today.
In three or four days, six more ministers may be inducted after consultations with the party high command, he said.
"Senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Birendera Singh have left for Dehradun as central observers and the swearing in of Bahuguna as Chief Minister is being held as scheduled," AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told PTI.
Dwivedi's assertion came on a day when the supporters of Rawat continued their protests outside his residence against the announcement of Bahuguna as the next chief minister of the state.
A sulking Rawat is said to have sent in his resignation as minister of state for agriculture and parliamentary affairs as he felt that it will be difficult for him to continue in the government when for the second time, his claim has been overruled.