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RS poll: Vijay Bahuguna may reap the fruit of masterminding Congress split

Former chief minister, who joined the BJP after causing a split in the Congress ahead of the last assembly polls, is ‘leading’ the race for the lone Rajya Sabha seat in Uttarakhand

dehradun Updated: Feb 26, 2018 22:18 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand news,Former chief minister,Vijay Bahuguna
Vijay Bahuguna.(HT FILE PHOTO)

Former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, who joined the BJP after causing a split in the Congress ahead of the last assembly polls, is “leading” the race for the lone Rajya Sabha seat in Uttarakhand, for which the election is due on March 23, party insiders said.

“The high command may reward him (Bahuguna) with party ticket for the Rajya Sabha seat,” a BJP leader familiar with the affairs said. “The former chief minister might get the reward in view of the crucial role he played in ensuring our party’s landslide win in the 2017 assembly elections.”

According to the leader, the split caused by Bahuguna in the Congress proved to be a major factor behind the saffron party’s decisive win in the state polls. The former CM’s stature in the saffron party rose as he along with 11 other former Congress legislators joined the BJP. Party’s win in the Rajya Sabha election is a foregone conclusion considering its unprecedented three-fourth majority in the House. The Congress has just 11 MLAs.

BJP insiders said the split Bahuguna caused in the Congress could not have been possible without a quid pro quo deal between him and the party brass. “If any such understanding was reached between the two sides, then not only will he (Bahuguna) be rewarded but his son too get something substantial in the bargain”, a BJP leader having close links with the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) said. Bahugun’s son Saurabh currently represents the Sitargang assembly seat. Party insiders said if such a deal did take place then Saurabh’s name might also figure among party workers who could soon be awarded with minister-level posts.

BJP state unit chief Ajay Bhatt in an interview with HT recently had said party workers could be “awarded with minister-level posts, which would help motivate them to campaign for the urban local body polls due in April and the Lok Sabha elections next year.”

Reports filtering through the BJP, however, suggest that Bhatt is also a frontrunner for the Rajya Sabha seat. Insiders said he could also be rewarded as the party won the last assembly election under his stewardship.

Bhatt, however, refuted all such reports stating that he was “neither lobbying for the Rajya Sabha seat nor am I in the race for it.” BJP insiders said he might not be interested in the seat in the Upper House as he is already heading the party’s state unit. “Also, a Rajya Sabha seat might not interest him because any position at the Centre demands a different kind of exposure and ability, which many provincial leaders do not possess”, a state BJP office bearer said. According to him, Bahuguna being a former high court judge and also owing to his political stature fits the bill as far as the Rajya Sabha seat is concerned.

Bhatt, however, denied the reports about the BJP workers indulging in hectic lobbying for the coveted position. “Lobbying etc doesn’t work in our party”, he said. “Any of our party workers whose name the BJP central parliamentary board will clear will be unanimously elected for the lone Rajya Sabha seat.”

First Published: Feb 26, 2018 21:42 IST