BJP legislators from Kumaon alleged on Saturday that chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat neglected their region and gave better representation to Garhwal in his council of ministers, party sources said.
Rawat and nine ministers, including seven of cabinet rank, took oath on Friday.
BJP insiders said regional and caste imbalance in the ministry caused dissatisfaction among party legislators from Kumaon. “This tilt of caste and regional imbalance against that region may cost our party heavily in the long run despite the brute majority it has got in the assembly election,” a BJP legislator from Kumaon said. The saffron party won 57 of the 70 assembly seats.
There is a likelihood of most of the BJP MLAs from Kumaon joining the Congress if steps are not taken to correct the regional imbalance, party insiders said. The BJP legislators are also unhappy with Rawat for not inducting in his ministry a single Thakur from Kumaon.
“The Thakur community from Kumaon went unrepresented in the Rawat cabinet though the region has given the party 23 of the total 29 seats,” a BJP legislator said. “The number of Thakur voters in the region (Kumaon) stands at 45 to 50%.”
He said four Thakur legislators, including the CM, got representation from Garhwal in the ministry. “Incidentally, all of them are Rawat by caste,” a BJP leader from Kumaon said, referring to chief minister Rawat, Satpal Maharaj (also Rawat by caste), Harak Singh Rawat and Dhan Singh Rawat.
He said none of the BJP’s five Thakur legislators from Kumaon got a representation in the cabinet. Bishen Singh Chuphal, Surendra Singh Jina, Pushkar Singh Dhami and Puran Singh Fartiyal have been winning assembly elections.
“Even the youngest of them (Dhami and Jina) failed to get representation,” said a BJP insider. “Dhami is a two-time legislator and Jina won consecutively for the third time.”
A section of BJP leaders also accused Rawat of not giving adequate representation to veteran Kumaon legislators from the Brahmin community. They are Bansidhar Bhagat (Kaladhungi) and Rajesh Shukla (Kichha).
Shukla defeated former Congress CM Harish Rawat by over 2000 votes. “It’s been a practice of political parties that they give a cabinet berth to a legislator who defeats a chief minister,” said a state BJP office-bearer.
The ruling party denied that legislators from Kumaon were discriminated against. “There is no substance in such allegations,” said state BJP spokesperson Virendra Singh Bisht. “The cabinet constituted by the chief minister is balanced; he has given equal representation to castes, communities and regions.” He denied dissatisfaction among the BJP legislators from Kumaon.