Factionalism within the ruling Congress has come to the fore again ahead of the election to the lone Rajya Sabha seat from Uttarakhand due on November 20. According to reports, both chief minister Harish Rawat and his predecessor Vijay Bahuguna have been lobbying hard for the RS seat.
While the CM is reportedly seeking the RS seat for one of his supporters, Bahuguna, who has been sidelined within the Congress since his ouster as the CM i, wants it for himself.
Bahuguna reportedly had a long meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on Wednesday. Incidentally, the same day CM Rawat flew to the national capital where he reportedly discussed the issue of the RS seat with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
According to reports, the CM wants the seat to go to one of his two protégés - and they are -- Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Kishore Upadhyay and former party MP from Almora Pradeep Tamta.
Bahuguna is reportedly pushing for the inclusion of four MLAs loyal to him in the Rawat cabinet. They are Subodh Uniyal (Narendra Nagar), Shailendra Mohan Singhal (Jaspur), Pradeep Batra (Roorkee) and Vijay Pal Sajwan (Gangotri).
Recently, he created a flutter within the Rawat camp demanding the CM immediately carry out a long pending cabinet reshuffle. Incidentally, barring cabinet minister Harak Singh Rawat none of the MLAs from the Bahuguna camp have found a berth in the council of ministers.
The former CM has been saying there should be no hurdles in carrying out a cabinet reshuffle as the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) supported Congress government is no longer dependent on its ally for survival.
“Yet, the number of ministers from the PDF quota has reached five whereas there number was only four when I was the CM,” Bahuguna told reporters in Haridwar on Tuesday while suggesting that a cabinet reshuffle could be carried out on the basis of the ministers’ performance.
“Infighting is natural in a party like the Congress but it shouldn’t be allowed to reach a stage where it starts hurting its interests. I think our senior leaders will keep that aspect in mind,” said Upadhyay. The CM’s media in-charge Surendra Kumar told HT that a final call on the issue of the RS seat or a possible cabinet reshuffle would be taken by the party high command.