The rigorous search for an assembly seat for Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna may soon be over with a couple of MLAs from not just ruling Congress but also from opposition Bharatiya Janata Party ready to vacate their seats for him.
Bahuguna on Saturday evening left for New Delhi to consult top leaders of Congress whether he can contest from a seat vacated by BJP MLA.
"The chief minister is expected to make an announcement regarding his plan to contest assembly election after June 8 when the vidhan sabha session ends," said Surya Kant Dhasmana, vice president of the state Congress.
The move comes after a couple of BJP MLAs in the hill state expressed their desire to vacate their seat for Bahuguna. On top of the list is Kiran Mandal, a legislator from Sitarganj, who has reportedly told the BJP high command that he was not happy in the party and was taking the step in the larger interest of the people of his constituency
Mandal wants permanent resident status for all Bengalis settled in Sitarganj as a quid pro quo for his resignation.
The state assembly has a strength of 70 with Congress bagging 32 seats against BJP's 31 in the recent held assembly elections. All the 7 non-Congress and non-BJP MLAs are supporting the Congress government.
Significantly, Union Minister Harish Rawat is opposed to the idea of a BJP MLA vacating his seat for Bahuguna saying
Congress should not follow the "bad precedent" of the saffron party in 2007 when a Congress MLA had vacated the Dhumakot seat for the then chief minister B C Khanduri.
However, a section of Congress leaders are not averse to the idea.
"When a BJP MLA himself wants to quit his seat without any fear or pressure, I see no harm that the chief minister contests from such a seat," said a top Congress leader.
Congress leaders are claiming a couple of more BJP MLAs have expressed similar desire to resign hoping for a "good deal".
The move by these BJP MLAs has irked the top party leaders in the state with Khanduri accusing Congress of kidnapping leaders like Mandal.
However, Dhirendra Pratap, state Congress spokesman, has demanded public apology from Khanduri for defaming Congress and threatened to register an FIR against the BJP leader in this regard.
Some Congress MLAs including Karanparyag and Raipur MLAs Anusuiya Prasad Maikhuri and Umesh Sharma aka Kau Pradhan have told the chief minister that they are ready to resign from their seats in case he wants to contest from their area.
Out of 7, three are independents, one belongs to Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and three others from the Bahujan Samaj Party.
In addition to this, the government has also nominated one MLA from Anglo-India community.