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Vijay Bahuguna sworn in as Uttarakhand CM, Rawat revolts

Last updated on: March 13, 2012 22:35 IST

Vijay Bahuguna sworn in as Uttarakhand CM, Rawat revolts

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Congress member of Parliament Vijay Bahuguna was on Tuesday sworn in as the chief minister of Uttarakhand after the Congress overruled a revolt by another MP Harish Rawat, who is said to have offered to resign from the Union government.

Sixty-five-year-old Bahuguna, son of late Congress leader Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, was the lone minister to take the oath of office and secrecy at a brief ceremony at the Parade Ground in Dehradun.

Before his swearing in, Bahuguna told reporters that six more ministers will be inducted in three or four days after consultations with the High Command.

Governor Margaret Alva administered the oath at the function which was attended by former Chief Minister N D Tiwari, central Congress observers Ghulam Nabi Azad, Birender Singh, party MP Satpal Maharaj, PCC chief Yashpal Arya, and Bahuguna's sister Rita Bahuguna Joshi.

Only 11 out of the 32 Congress MLAs were present besides three independent MLAs -- Mantri Prasad Netani, Harish Durgapal and Dinesh Tanhai -- and Uttarakhand Kranti Dal MLA Pritam Singh Panwar.

Prominent Congress leaders Harak Singh Rawat and Indra Hridayesh, who were themselves aspirants for the chief minister's post, were conspicuous by their absence as were Harish Rawat's supporters.

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Image: Vijay Bahuguna waves to his supporters


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Vijay Bahuguna sworn in as Uttarakhand CM, Rawat revolts

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The Congress, which won 32 seats in the 70-member Assembly, one more than the Bharatiya Janata Party's 31, has managed to get the support of three Independents and an equal number of Bahujan Samaja Party members of Legislative Assembly and that of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal-K MLA.

But the revolt by Rawat, who is said to have a sizable number of supporters among the MLAs, came as a surprise to the party leadership.

Upset over the party decision, Rawat reportedly sent a letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi offering to resign. His supporters claimed in the capital that he has resigned but Rawat himself declined to confirm or deny.

The swearing-in ceremony took place even as sulking Rawat and his supporters were closeted at his residence in Delhi and were deliberating their next strategy after the high command rejected the Union minister's demand that he be made the chief minister.

Rawat, a Rajput leader who was elected to Lok Sabha first in 1980 defeating BJP's Murli Manohar Joshi, was pipped to the post in the race for chief ministership when Sonia Gandhi chose Bahuguna, a Brahmin, for the post.

Since then, Rawat, minister of state for agriculture and parliamentary affairs, had been upset and had made it plain to the party that he has been overlooked a second time after N D Tiwari was preferred over him ten years ago.



Image: Harish Rawat


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Vijay Bahuguna sworn in as Uttarakhand CM, Rawat revolts

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As the revolt raged, there was uncertainty whether the party would have a rethink. But All Indian Congress Committee General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi ruled out any change of chief minister nominee.

"Senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Birendera Singh have left for Dehradun as central observers and the swearing in of Bahuguna as the chief minister is being held as scheduled," he said.

Even as Bahuguna was taking oath, Pradeep Tamta, a Congress MP and close aide of Rawat, breathed fire outside Rawat's residence in Delhi saying they would refuse to accept Bahuguna as their leader because he worked against the party during the elections.

The party high command had played game with Rawat earlier, which has been repeated again. "At that time we accepted it because it was Tiwari who was big in stature. This time we will not accept," he said.

Asked about the number of MLAs supporting Rawat and what will be their strategy during confidence vote, Tamta said they would disclose the strategy at the right time.

Queried whether their group has the support of 17 MLAs, he said, "We have that much and more than that. We will let you know the number as and when it is required." He denied reports that Rawat had either met or spoken to BJP President Nitin Gadkari or any other BJP leaders.

Asked about Rawat's revolt, Bahuguna said the party was ready to handle any kind of crisis. "This is a pressure tactics. We will handle it," he said.

He, however, added that Rawat is a Congressman and he will not go with communal forces.


Image: Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly


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