Uttarakhand Congress MLAs loyal to Satpal Maharaj on Friday rubbished speculation that they might also quit the party to follow their leader, saying the Pauri Garhwal MP's decision to join the BJP was personal and they were still with the party.
Satpal Maharaj (HT Photo)
"Maharaj's decision is personal. I don't think it is good for him in the long run," party MLA from Shreenagar segment Ganesh Godiyal, who is considered close to Maharaj, said.
Asked if he was among half a dozen MLAs who as per media reports were likely to follow their leader and quit Congress, Godiyal said there was no room for any "ifs and buts when it came to their loyalty to their party."
Replying to a question, he said he was aware of the Pauri Garhwal MP's resentment with the party on a couple of issues but was not expecting a drastic step like this from him.
Deputy speaker of Uttarakhand Assembly Anusuya Prasad Maikhuri, who is also considered a supporter of Maharaj, said he was hurt over his decision which took him by surprise.
"He was a tall party leader and his quitting the party has led to despair among party workers. I had no idea about his decision. It hurts me to think that he left the party after serving it for such a long time," Maikhuri said.
Some other Maharaj loyalists such as Congress MLA from Badrinath seat. Rajendra Bhandari, expressed similar sentiments but said they were with the party.
They also said there was no threat to the fledgling Harish Rawat government in the state as of now, as being speculated in the media.
However, Maharaj's wife Amrita Rawat who is a member of the Harish Rawat Cabinet, could not be reached for her comments as to which way she would go.
The seven-member PDF supporting the Rawat government, however, said they were keeping an eye on the developments and would take a decision only after a meeting among themselves.
"We are keeping an eye on the political developments and will take a decision accordingly after a meeting of PDF," its convenor Mantri Prasad Naithani said.
The ruling Congress has 33 MLAs and has the support of seven-member PDF which consists of three BSP MLAs, three Independents and one UKD member in the 70-member Uttarakhand Assembly. Opposition BJP has 30 MLAs in the House.