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Embattled Bahuguna to seek Sonia's help to stem crisis

March 16, 2012 16:34 IST

With the four-day old Congress government in Uttarakhand facing a severe crisis, embattled Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Friday rushed to Delhi to seek party chief Sonia Gandhi's intervention.

His plans to meet Gandhi came a day after 17 Congress members of Legislative Assembly, mostly loyalists of Union Minister Harish Rawat, refused to take oath in the state Assembly to register their protest against choice of Bahuguna for the top post.

Senior party leaders Harak Singh Rawat and Indira Hridayesh were also absent. They too are understood to have given their support to Rawat.

In the 70-member Assembly, Congress has 32 MLAs and with the help of three Independents and as many MLAs from Bahujan Samaj Party, besides the lone Uttarakhand Kranti Dal member, the party attained a majority of 39 to form the government.

The ministry formation was delayed due to internal feud in the ruling party as different factions favoured their own candidate.

After days of suspense, Bahuguna took oath on Tuesday but it left Rawat and his supporters sulking. During his stay in Delhi, Bahuguna is expected to request Gandhi to resolve the crisis in the state Congress, a party MLA close to Bahuguna said.

"There are lot of issues which need to be discussed with the party high command, which included the election of the Speaker and choice of candidate for the lone Rajya Sabha  seat where election is due on March 30," he said.

Bahuguna, who took oath alone, will have to prove his majority on the floor of the House which will meet for the first time from March 26.

Despite all odds, Bahuguna has been maintaining that his government would win the trust vote and complete its full term.

"We have a majority in the House. All the 39 MLAs have given letter of support to the Governor. We will comfortably win the trust vote and provide a strong and effective government," Bahuguna told reporters here before leaving for the national capital where he is also likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss development plans.

Meanwhile, party sources said PCC chief Yashpal Arya is likely to be the next Speaker. "In all probability, it is going to be Arya because he was Speaker during the previous Congress government also," a top Congress leader said.

The election of the Speaker will be held on March 26. Meanwhile, three more Congress MLAs on Friday took oath, taking the number of Congress MLAs having done so to 18.

Asked as to when the remaining 14 Congress MLAs would take oath, Protem Speaker Shailendra Mohan Singhal said, "I have no information."

Party sources said it was not yet clear whom these three MLAs supported - Bahuguna or Rawat.
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