Rift in the ruling Congress in Uttarakhand further widened with senior minister Indira Hridayesh offering to resign from the cabinet on Wednesday night over her alleged differences with a section of party leaders led by AICC secretary Prakash Joshi.
Hridayesh, who holds crucial finance, parliamentary affairs, higher education and planning portfolios, took the decision during a heated meeting with party’s Uttarakhand in-charge Ambika Soni.
Soni was here to resolve the growing squabbling that threatens to upset Congress’ prospect in the assembly elections due early next year. Already there are differences between chief minister Harish Rawat and state Congress president Kishore Upadhyaya, which often lead to ugly power tussle.
Congress sources said Hridayesh was peeved over the way the Joshi-led group raised a “flag of rebellion” against her.
Hridayesh, who represents Haldwani constituency in the assembly, has a tiff with Joshi for quite a sometime now. Joshi, who is considered to be close to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, too hails from Haldwani in the Kumaon region.
The rift between the two came in the open last month when Joshi and several others were ignored during a programme organised by the minister at her constituency in Haldwani.
It further increased after Joshi accused the minister of supporting BJP and RSS elements after a rebel BJP candidate was seen taking blessings from the minister soon after he won the student union polls in Haldwani Degree College.
“We are fighting against the ideology of BJP and RSS and the minister is supporting such elements. I will fight against it,” said Joshi, who also recently staged a day-long fast in Haldwani along with several other Congress leaders, including revenue minister Yashpal Arya’s son.
Joshi also lodged a formal complaint against the minister with Soni, chief minister and state Congress president. He said if required he would approach the party central leaders.
Sources privy to the resignation episode said Rawat, Upadhyay and Soni tried hard to pacify Hridayesh.
“Indiraji has some issues and we are trying to resolve them. But there is no rift” the Congress president told HT on Thursday.
He, however, advised party leaders not to publically air their views. “Differences are obvious, but leaders should refrain from going public with their views,” Upadhyay said when asked whether party was contemplating action against warring leaders.
Incidentally, Soni came to the state to iron out the differences between the chief minister and the Pradesh Congress president, but now with Hridayesh offering to quit the ministry, the dissention in the party assumed a new dimension and she had a fresh problem to address.
Minister did not respond when HT reached her for comments on the resignation issue.
“I am busy” she said before disconnecting the phone.