A day after union minister Harish Rawat showed some signs of reconciliation, the Congress again plunged into a political crisis in Uttarakhand on Thursday when 17 of its 32 legislators abstained from taking oath.
These legislators — owing allegiance to Rawat — appear determined to bring down the Congress government in the state.
Adopting a tough posture, they have have rejected overtures from the central leadership and the formula that was learnt to have been worked out to accommodate some of their concerns as a quid pro quo to allow CM Vijay Bahuguna continue in the post.
“Nothing short of Harishji as the CM,” said an agitated MLA.
The angry legislators did not even allow Rawat to attend Parliament on Thursday. Sources said Rawat has requested the high command to relieve him of all ministerial responsibilities to enable him to work for the party.
Bahuguna now has a difficult task at hand — to save his government in the trust vote on March 29. The decision to abstain from taking oath means these legislators are not bound by the party whip and could stay away from the floor test.
The revolt has brought two arch-rivals — Harish Rawat and former CLP leader Harak Singh Rawat — on the same platform. Harak Singh Rawat has been holding the fort at the union minister’s Delhi residence since Monday.
While Bahuguna has managed to woo Garhwal MP Satpal Maharaj and state Congress president Yashpal Arya to his side, Harish Rawat’s other bete noire Indira Hridyesh has also stayed away from the CM camp.