Dehradun: The internal wrangle for specific ministerial posts within the Congress, which is believed to be the reason for chief minister Harish Rawat's lingering indecision over portfolio distribution, seems to be stemming from three prominent cabinet ministers — Indira Hridiyesh, Harak Singh Rawat and Amrita Rawat.
While Hridiyesh and Amrita are keenly interested in heading the public works department, a source within the Congress said that Harak wished to lay his hands on the higher education ministry, besides the five he held in the previous regime.
Harish Rawat is sworn-in as a cabinet minister by President Pranab Mukherjee during a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. PTI Photo
The trio reportedly threatened to resign if Rawat further delayed giving them what they have asked for.
The sources did not specifically explain why the three ministers want these particular posts, but admit the scope of making money in PWD and higher education is bigger than that in other ministerial posts.
The decision on whom to allot the higher education ministry is easy, given the fact that there is nobody else apparently fighting for it except for Harak Singh. But the same over the PWD ministry is tricky. With Amrita Rawat and Hridiyesh staking a claim on it, the CM is in between a rock and a hard place. Both are powerful ministers and are forces to be reckoned with, especially when Rawat is heading a minority government supported by PDF.
In the previous government, the PWD ministry was under the then chief minister, Vijay Bahuguna. However, in the ND Tiwari-government it was handled by Indira Hridiyesh. It is this fact that Hridiyesh is flaunting to stake her claim on the PWD ministry.
Before the leadership changeover in the state government, when speculations about who would replace Bahaguna as the chief minister were still doing the rounds, Hridiyesh had publicly announced that she was best suited to be the chief minister as she was the senior-most minister in the cabinet.
However, when Bahuguna resigned, Harish Rawat became the CM instead. So it is only natural that Rawat is wary of disappointing Hridiyesh a second time, by denying her the PWD ministry.
Meanwhile, he cannot choose Hridiyesh over Amrita Rawat as well. Her husband, Pauri MP Satpal Maharaj, is a mentor of Progressive Democratic Front chairman Mantri Prasad Naithani. The seven-member PDF is supporting Congress in the assembly, which has 33 legislators — two short of the majority. So again, Rawat would not want to do anything that would upset the coalition, according to sources in the Congress.
"They (the three minister) are applying pressure tactics to take advantage of the political compulsions faced by the CM and get what they want," a source said.
Currently the chief minister is at the helms of 11 ministries and around 40 departments and is in a dilemma over their distribution to others.
Meanwhile, the state Congress leaders said there was nothing wrong with ministers lobbying for particular posts.
"Ours is a democratic party… So there is nothing wrong if our ministries are lobbying for better portfolios," state Congress spokesperson Surendra Agrawal said.