HindustanTimes Mon,22 Dec 2014

Satpal Maharaj allegiance to BJP hints at his eye on CM seat

Anupam Trivedi  Dehradun, March 23, 2014
First Published: 17:05 IST(23/3/2014) | Last Updated: 17:20 IST(23/3/2014)

Dehradun: 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 the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP might topple the government by enticing a block of 7 MLA’s – 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.

The Congress enjoys support of Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) that consists of 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. Amrtia 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.

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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