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Denied cabinet berths, BJP MLAs’ discontent comes out in open

BJP insiders said about 14 veteran legislators are unhappy as they were ignored for the Cabinet berths

dehradun Updated: Mar 23, 2017 20:29 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Supporters of Harbans Kapoor protest against Premchand aggarwal being named Speaker.(HT Photo)

DEHRADUN: Days after chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat constituted his 10-member council of ministers, discontent has started brewing in BJP with supporters of eight-time legislator and former Speaker Harbans Kapoor threatening to resign enmasse to protest against his non-inclusion in the Cabinet.

BJP insiders said about 14 veteran legislators are unhappy as they were ignored for the Cabinet berths. Besides Kapoor, other disgruntled MLAs include Balwant Singh Bhoriyal, Surendra Jina, Chandan Ram Das, Khajan Das, Yatishwaranad, Rajesh Shukla, Pushkar Dhami, Bansidhar Bhagat and Ganesh Joshi.

“Among these (disgruntled) legislators are Shukla and Yatishwaranand who defeated former chief minster (Harish Rawat) by a huge margin,” a senior BJP leader said. According to him, all of them are below 70 and below the age cap of 75 set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for getting the minister’s post.

BJP spokesperson Suresh Joshi down played the reports of rebellion in the party. “These (discontent) are just teething troubles, which will be taken care of…The entire party stands solidly behind our government…There is no doubt about that,” he told HT.

The unexpected good electoral result had aised the hopes of party veterans. But most of them drew a blank as five of the total nine Cabinet berths went to Congress turncoats.

The short shrift they got from the high command has given rise to discontent among the newly elected BJP legislators. It came out in the open on Wednesday when Kapoor’s supporters threatened to resign enmasse to protest the party’s decision to back Prem Agrawal’s candidature for the post of Speaker. On Thursday, the BJP legislator party unanimously elected Agrawal for that post.

Those close to Kapoor said he was unhappy but “kept his cool” assuming that he might be given the post of the assembly Speaker. “Instead, the party backed Agrawal who has been unanimously elected as the Speaker,” a confidante of the BJP veteran said.

No sooner had Agrawal filed his nomination, scores of Kapoor supporters’ gheraoed the residence of state BJP chief Ajay Bhatt to protest against the raw deal their leader got. “Bhatt tried to calm them telling them that their sentiment had been conveyed to the party’s central leaders,” a Kapoor supporter said.

The former Speaker though sought to play down the issue. Kapoor maintained that his supporters also gheraoed his Yamuna Colony residence. “They are so angry that they stopped me from venturing out of my residence until their demands are met,” he had told HT on Wednesday night. “We have 57 legislators…I know all of them can’t be accommodated in the council of ministers and some will be left out.”

“One does feel hurt,” Kapoor admitted, when asked how he felt on being ignored for the cabinet berth.

First Published: Mar 23, 2017 20:29 IST