M A I N   N E W S

Rawat takes over as Uttarakhand CM; 11 ministers retained
Amid dissent in state Cong, party chief Sonia takes the final call
SMA Kazmi
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 1
Senior Congress leader and Union Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat was today sworn in as the eighth Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. He was given the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Dr Aziz Qureshi at Raj Bhawan.

Eleven members of the outgoing Council of Ministers headed by Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna also took oath. Bahuguna had submitted his resignation yesterday.

The oath ceremony followed a four-hour meeting of the Uttarakhand Congress Legislature Party (CLP) attended by the three AICC observers - Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi and party general secretary in-charge Uttarakhand affairs Ambika Soni. The legislators authorised party president Sonia Gandhi to announce their leader.

Dwivedi later announced Union Minister Harish Rawat as the next leader of the Uttarakhand CLP.

He said Rawat was unanimously elected as the CLP leader and that the legislators had reposed faith in him. Congress state unit president Yashpal Arya and vice-president Suryakant Dhasmana took the letter bearing Rawat’s name to the Governor, who invited Rawat for the oath ceremony at 6.30 pm.

The transition was not smooth as the AICC observers and Rawat had a tough time bringing senior leaders, particularly Pauri Garhwal Satpal Maharaj and his supporting legislators, on board.

In the morning, Rawat met his critics Satpal Maharaj and Yashpal Arya to seek their support. Tempers ran high at the CLP meeting as Uttarakhand Tourism Minister Amrita Rawat and Satpal Maharaj’s wife demanded that the will of the legislators should prevail. She reportedly said there was no need for eliciting the views of the party legislators since a decision had already been taken.

She was later placated by Ghulam Nabi Azad. Soon everyone fell in line, authorising the party chief to take a decision on the leadership.

Later, MLAs belonging to the Progressive Democratic Alliance, a conglomerate of seven legislators, supporting the government demanded ministerial berth for five of them. Four were already ministers in the Bahuguna Cabinet. They wanted the inclusion of Tehri legislator Dinesh Dhani in the Cabinet.

While their request was turned down, they were persuaded to maintain the status quo. The 11 ministers are: Indira Hriydesh, Yashpal Arya, Harak Singh Rawat, Pritam Singh, Amrita Rawat, Surinder Singh Negi, Dinesh Aggarwal, Mantri Prasad Naithani, Harish Chand Durgapal, Pritam Singh Panwar and Surinder Rakesh.

Trouble in alliance

  • The Progressive Democratic Alliance, which lends support of seven legislators to the Congress government, seems to be headed for a split
  • The alliance, whose four MLAs were ministers in the outgoing Bahuguna Cabinet, initially demanded ministerial berth for all seven MLAs
  • It later sought Tehri’s Independent legislator Dinesh Dhanai’s inclusion, besides the four, in the Cabinet. But the Congress shot down the request and retained the four

    It (Himalayan tsunami) was not an ordinary calamity. Rowing the boat in the midst of a tornado is very difficult and that is exactly what Bahuguna did during 
    the tragedy
    Harish Rawat,  uttarkhand chief minister





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