The main challenge before Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who emerged victorious after 55 days of political turmoil, will be to accommodate legislators who supported him in the trust vote and to not alienate them seven months before the state goes to polls.
The notification to revoke President’s Rule in the state was issued on Wednesday night. With this, all the ministers have also been restored. But the focus has now shifted to two ministerial berths that were vacated after the death of Bahujan Samaj Party legislator Surendra Rakesh and the sacking of Congress leader Harak Singh, who rebelled.
“It is a tricky situation to handle. Harish Rawat will have to make perfect equilibrium. He cannot risk ignoring MLA’s irrespective of their affiliations,” said Jay Singh Singh, a political observer on filling two ministerial berths.
Four of the six members of Progressive Democratic Front – three independents and an Uttarakhand Kranti Dal MLA – have cabinet berths. Sources said the BSP with two MLA’s – which supported Rawat -- wants a ministerial berth.
BSP legislator Haridas formally made the demand during his meeting with Rawat recently. The BSP state president and another MLA Sarvat Karim Ansari were in Delhi on Wednesday for a meeting with party president Mayawati.
“Behenji (Mayawati) wants at least one ministerial berth in Uttarakhand” a BSP leader told HT.
Earlier, to accommodate legislators, Rawat appointed 12 parliamentary secretaries including Jeetram, Madan Bisht, Vikarm Negi, Ganesh Godiyal, Vijay Pal Sajwan. At least four of them are reportedly eyeing at ministerial berths.
Different factions in the state Congress complicate Rawat’s decisions. Senior legislators Rajendra Bhandari and Jeetram are considered close to Satpal Maharaj, who joined the BJP from the Congress in2014.
Former minister Navprabhat enjoys proximity with Congress veteran ND Tiwari whereas Sajwan, Negi and Rajkumar are considered close to rebel leader Vijay Bahuguna.
“Selection of minister is a chief minister’s prerogative. But I believe CM consults party high command before taking a final call,” Navprabhat told HT. The former minister was a legal adviser for the Congress during the crisis.
Two of the 12 parliamentary secretaries turned rebel. Two of Rawat’s supporters could be accommodated in positions.
After sacking Harak Singh Rawat, many of his supporters were removed from the ‘Mandi Parishad’ (agro body). A few faces could be accommodated here too.
“Our priority is to serve people. Party and Rawatji will look into other matters too” said Surender Kumar, media advisor to Harish Rawat.