Power tussle resurfaces as two U’khand ministers meet PM separately
The separate meetings of finance minister Prakash Pant and urban development minister Madan Kaushik with Modi within a gap of a few days also fuelled speculation that the PM might induct a minister from Uttarakhand into his Cabinet, which he reportedly plans to expand after the Monsoon session of Parliament.Updated: Aug 04, 2017, 19:48 IST
DEHRADUN: Two senior Uttarakhand ministers recently met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi separately, fuelling speculation about the power tussle resurfacing in the Trivendra Singh Rawat Cabinet.
The separate meetings of finance minister Prakash Pant and urban development minister Madan Kaushik with Modi within a gap of a few days also fuelled speculation that the PM might induct a minister from Uttarakhand into his Cabinet, which he reportedly plans to expand after the Monsoon session of Parliament.
The fissure first came out in the open after chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat pipped his close rival and, now, finance minister Prakash Pant to the top post in March. The power tussle was evident from the way the supporters of Pant and Rawat resorted to sloganeering in favour of their leaders outside a hotel where BJP legislators had assembled to elect their leader in the presence of the ruling party’s central observers.
Pant admitted that he had a meeting with Modi but denied having any political discussion with the Prime Minister. “We had no discussion other than the request I made to the Prime Minister for the Centre’s clearance of the budget for the externally aided projects,” he told Hindustan Times.
Kaushik also admitted that he had a meeting with Modi but did not share details.
BJP state president Ajay Bhatt asserted not much should be read into the two meetings with the Prime Minister. “He (Modi) is the supreme leader of our party…So, any minister from our state can meet him or our party chief (Amit Shah),” he said, adding that recently the chief minister and his Cabinet colleagues Pant, Kaushik and Satpal Maharaj had met Modi separately. “They meet him (Modi) to discuss only governance related issues.”
BJP insiders, however, see the two ministers’ meetings with Modi as part of the renewed power tussle between Pant and Rawat. They also feel that those meetings could also be the Prime Minister’s way of judging their competence. “There is a possibility of that as he (Modi) might induct one of the state ministers, possibly Satpal Maharaj, a former Congress heavyweight, into his Cabinet, which he is going to expand soon,” a BJP leader said. “That is possible because he had been assured the post of chief minister before the assembly election, a promise the BJP brass failed to keep.”
Party insiders said Maharaj could be shifted to the Centre through a Rajya Sabha seat, which would be vacant in April.