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After Satpal, Bahuguna jolts Rawat, demands key positions for loyalists

Deep Joshi  Dehradun, March 23, 2014
First Published: 17:32 IST(23/3/2014) | Last Updated: 17:42 IST(23/3/2014)

DEHRADUN: A day after Pauri parliamentarian Satpal Maharaj quit the Congress posing a threat to the minority Harish Rawat government, former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna has begun ‘mounting pressure’ on the  incumbent CM to get his men key posts within the government and the party organisation.


In what is being dubbed as a tit-for-tat, the former CM began the offensive against his bête noir Rawat by calling a closed-door meeting of MLAs loyal to him at his official residence here in the state capital on Saturday. More than half (15) of the total 33 Congress MLAs (in a house of 70 MLAs) attended the meeting.

It may be noted that the seven-member Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) supported Rawat government, is three short of a minimum 36 MLAs required to form a government.

“It was a show of strength by Bahuguna to make it clear to Rawat that the latter wouldn’t be able to run the government without his (Bahuguna) support after Maharaj’s exit,” a source close to the former CM said about the closed-door meeting presided over by Bahuguna.

“Besides, he (Bahuguna) also wanted to mount pressure on Rawat to get key posts both within the government and party organisation for his men,” he added.Describing the move as a tit-for-tat, the source said Rawat had mounted similar pressure on Bahuguna after the latter took over as CM in 2012.

“Rawat, who had the support of 10 MLAs, literally arm-twisted Bahuguna to get all the key posts within the government and the party organisation for his supporters,” he said.

Notably, none of the MLAs belonging to the Harish Rawat group were present in the meeting. Incidentally, barring Sundarlal Mandrawal, three MLAs loyal to Maharaj- Anusuya Prasad Maikhuri, Ganesh Godiyal and Rajendra Bhandari also stayed away from the gathering.

The meeting began at 12.30pm. The CM, who happens to be Bahuguna’s neighbour, joined the meeting one-and-a-half hours later. The MLAs who attended the meeting also included state Congress president Yashpal Arya.

However, both Rawat and Bahuguna tried to make light of the situation.Emerging from the meeting they told reporters that the move was aimed at discussing the Congress party’s preparations for the Lok Sabha polls.

“We all sat together so that we could discuss the poll preparations,” said Bahuguna and Rawat. “Besides, we also wanted to arrive at a consensus so as to request Soniaji (Congress president) to announce the party’s candidates for all the five LS seats in the state before March 25,” they added.

Sources close to Bahuguna claimed that Rawat is “so shaken after Maharaj’s exit from the Congress that he came to attend the meeting uninvited.”

“Rawat is nervous as he has got the support of just 10 MLAs…The majority of the MLAs are loyal to Bahugunaji,” said a source close to the former chief minister.
He added that there is no guarantee that the seven-member PDF would continue its support to the Rawat government.

more from Dehradun

‘Central aid to state rose in past 3 yrs, but growth slow’

The annual assistance from the Centre to the state has increased in last few financial years, according to official statistics, even though the Uttarakhand government has been firing salvos at the central government over it.
Two days ago, the state Congress unit demanded `4,000 crore financial assistance from the centre.
According to the central statistics office figures, the Centre released `4883.74 crores for the state in 2011-12. It released `4717.68 crores in 2012-2013. And in 2013-2014, it increased the assistance to `5418.60 crores.

Uttarakhand is one of the 11 Himalayan states which enjoy special category status besides Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
These special category states have to make part payment to the centre in lieu of getting funds for centrally-sponsored schemes.
Interestingly, on an average, central assistance has been substantial for the state though it has not helped Uttarakhand in increasing its Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) which is total monetary value of goods and services produced by a state economy in a given year.
“GSDP depends on various factors like rate of savings and investments and overall business atmosphere. But that doesn’t mean the state does not need help,” said Surender Kumar, media in-charge for CM adding that the state needs more funds.
The figures for Uttarakhand GSDP growth at constant (2004-5) price (as on 01-08-2014) was 9.36% in 2011-12. It was 5.61% in 2012-13 and 5.65% in 2013-2014.
Sometime back Planning Commission constituted a committee to study development in hill states arising from management of forest land with special focus on creation of infrastructure, livelihood and human development.
The report of the committee was discussed in Internal Planning Committee meeting held in February this year.
A Planning Commission note claimed that IPC broadly endorsed the recommendations of the committee. The report has also been forwarded to states for further inputs.

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