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CM’s absence at Nishank’s tea party triggers dissidence buzz

Nishank confirmed that most of 57 BJP legislators were present at the tea party but called the rumours about dissidence as baseless.

dehradun Updated: Feb 12, 2018 22:00 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand news,Trivendra Singh Rawat,Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank
The rumours got credence in the backdrop of rebellion brewing in the BJP’s state wing.(HT FILE)

Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat’s absence in a tea party, hosted by veteran BJP leader Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank at his residence here on Sunday, has triggered speculations about rumblings in the ruling party of Uttarakhand.

The rumours found traction because almost all top BJP state unit leaders were present at the tea party. They included the party’s state unit chief Ajay Bhatt, three former CMs -- Vijay Bahuguna and Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, apart from Nishank who is also a member of parliament from Haridwar.

Almost all cabinet ministers, barring Satpal Maharaj, and BJP’s national joint general secretary (organisation) Shiv Prakash also attended the tea party, said sources familiar with the development.

Nishank confirmed that most of 57 BJP legislators were present at the tea party but called the rumours about dissidence as baseless.

The rumours got credence in the backdrop of rebellion brewing in the BJP’s state wing. Kunwar Pranab Singh Champion, a four-time party legislator from Khanpur (Haridwar), has alleged that the chief minister was “under the influence of a strong cabinet minister from Haridwar who is weakening the ruling BJP and protecting the corrupt”.

In an interview, Singh said he would meet party chief Amit Shah on Tuesday to tell him that the chief minister was not paying heed to his complaints about corruption.

Former chief minister BC Khanduri has also accused Rawat of trying to push a watered down version of the Lokayukta amendment Bill in the assembly. Khaduri is considered the architect of a strong Lokayukta law enacted during his tenure in 2011.

Rawat and his cabinet colleague Satpal Maharaj appear to be at odds with each other. Sources close to the tourism minister said Maharaj has not been happy with the way he was ignored in many programmes related to his ministry. Maharaj was also among the front runners for the CM’s post ahead of the 2017 assembly polls.

Besides, senior legislators have been sulking after they were not included in the Rawat cabinet formed about a year ago. Party insiders said the patience of the aspiring legislators “has now started wearing thin” as there has been no cabinet expansion to fill two vacant berths.

“In this backdrop, most party legislators attending the tea party is self-explanatory,” said a BJP insider. “Most BJP leaders attending the tea party that was skipped by the CM may perhaps lead to major changes at the level of the government and the party.”

Refuting such speculations, Nishank said, “I simply invited our party leaders and workers for the tea party...Most of them attended it because they were already in the town to attend a party function.”

BJP MLA Deshraj Karnwal said, “It was simply a tea party and not much should be read into it.” Darshan Singh Rawat, the CM’s media coordinator, the event (tea party) had not been listed in the CM’s programme for that day. “The chief minister had many other important programmes lined up for him.”

First Published: Feb 12, 2018 21:59 IST