In ministers’ clash, Congress sees ‘power tussle’ for CM’s post in Uttarakhand | dehradun | Hindustan Times
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In ministers’ clash, Congress sees ‘power tussle’ for CM’s post in Uttarakhand

A day after supporters of ministers Satpal Maharaj and Madan Kaushik clashed in Haridwar, the Opposition Congress dubbed the scuffle as a “clear sign of a bitter power tussle” in the Trivendra Singh Rawat Cabinet

dehradun Updated: Aug 11, 2017 19:53 IST
Deep Joshi
Haridwar city police chief Mamta Vohra (left) tries to pacify supporters of minister Madan Kaushik from intruding into the ashram of tourism minister Satpal Maharaj in Haridwar.
Haridwar city police chief Mamta Vohra (left) tries to pacify supporters of minister Madan Kaushik from intruding into the ashram of tourism minister Satpal Maharaj in Haridwar. (RAMESHWAR GAUR/HT PHOTO)

A day after supporters of ministers Satpal Maharaj and Madan Kaushik clashed in Haridwar, the Opposition Congress dubbed the scuffle as a “clear sign of a bitter power tussle” in the Trivendra Singh Rawat Cabinet.

“The clashes turned violent because the two ministers didn’t speak to each other nor did they try to restrain their supporters,” said senior Congress leader Surendra Kumar, adding that lack of communication between them was “a clear sign” of the power tussle dogging the nearly five-month old government.

The BJP, however, termed the scuffle as something circumstantial. “The episode is painful but not much should be read into it as it was not deliberate but something circumstantial,” party’s state general secretary Naresh Bansal said.

Haridwar mayor Manoj Garg along with about a dozen BJP workers was injured in a violent scuffle that ensued after supporters of Kaushik and Maharaj came to blows over removing allegedly illegal structures outside the latter’s Ashram.

“It (clash) was a strange way of doing Kirtan (singing devotional songs) in the world famous shrine town,” Kumar said taking a jibe at Maharaj, who is also a spiritual leader. “On the other side was somebody who wanted to remove illegal structures,” he said in an apparent reference to Kaushik who represents Haridwar (city) in the Assembly. “Who put up those illegal structures,” he asked.

Kumar accused the two BJP leaders of being in the race for the post of chief minister. “It seems those who are eyeing the top post are in a tearing hurry to grab it,” he said. Kumar said the ministers could have resolved the issue by sitting across the table. “If two Cabinet ministers are not communicating…They are challenging each other’s authority…the message is clear that they are in a hurry to become the CM and can’t wait for five years,” he said.

Reports of discontent among the ruling BJP legislators surfaced soon after Rawat constituted the nine-member Cabinet on March 18. Those who missed the bus accused him of failing to strike a caste and regional balance while choosing his Council of Ministers. In fact, if reports are to be believed, Maharaj and his ministerial colleague Harak Singh Rawat openly argued over an issue during one of the Cabinet meetings.

The alleged differences between the two ministers though elicited mixed reactions from analysts. “It was more of an upshot of ego clash of two personalities than both eyeing the top post,” said Prof M C Sati of HNB Garhwal (Central) University.

His colleague M M Semwal said the CM and his ministerial colleagues see in Maharaj a threat for two reasons. “First, he is a former Congress heavyweight who joined the BJP only some three years ago. Besides, the party leadership also wanted to project him as the CM candidate but changed its mind later.”

Bansal dubbed all such theories as mere conjectures. “There was nothing pre-planned about the scuffle between their supporters, which was nothing but a mob fury,” he said. “Besides, both the leaders were out of station the day when the clashes took place among their supporters.”