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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Is Satpal Maharaj eyeing Uttarakhand CM post?

Anupam Trivedi, Hindustantimes.com  Dehradun, March 22, 2014
First Published: 14:49 IST(22/3/2014) | Last Updated: 15:05 IST(22/3/2014)
Satpal Maharaj, the Congress MP from Uttarakhand who switched over allegiance to BJP on Friday, is seen as an ambitious politician with an eye on chief minister's post. There is a buzz in the political corridors that after Lok Sabha polls BJP might topple government by enticing block of 7 MLAs, supporting minority Congress government in state.
 
In the House of 70 MLAs, 36 members needed to form government. BJP has 30 members while Congress has 33. Congress enjoys support of Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) that consists 3 BSP, 1 UKD and 3 independents. The math is simple – if these 7 members from PDF pull out support then Congress government will fall flat.
 
"The Congress government will go after the polls" claimed Bhagat Singh Koshyari just two days back. Koshyari is an ex CM and BJP candidate from Nainital parliament seat.
 
Interestingly within BJP there are half a dozen leaders ready to head government – including three former CM's – Koshyari, BC Khanduri and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. Besides leader of opposition Ajay Bhatt, former ministers Trivendra Rawat and Prakah Pant are also seen as contenders.
 
BJP has given Loksabha tickets to all three ex CM's while Trivendra Rawat and Pant lost assembly polls in 2012. Bhatt apparently becomes the lone serious candidate for coveted post but now Congress turncoat Satpal Maharaj has also joined the BJP camp.
 
"As of now BJP is not interested in toppling Harish Rawat government but every possibility remains in politics" said Bhatt, while talking to HT on Saturday, adding "the final call on deciding name for CM rests with the central party unit".
 
It is learnt Satpal Maharaj had lobbied hard to become CM after Congress replaced Vijay Bahuguna with Harish Rawat in February this year. Amrita Rawat, Satpal's wife and cabinet minister in Congress government had openly expressed her resentment over Harish Rawat's name.
 
"As far as I know Satpal intends to go to Rajya Sabha. But it is always difficult to understand him. We know in time to come he might stake claim for heading BJP government" admitted a senior BJP functionary.
 
The PDF is keeping cards close to its chest. MP Naithani, cabinet minister and chairman of PDF said that front will soon decide on the future course. In fact Naithani a former Congressman is close to Maharaj. He contested assembly polls as an independent after Congress denied him ticket.
 
Meanwhile Satpal's wife Amrita said in a statement that she will remain with Congress government?

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