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Uttarakhand: Why Bahuguna and Rawat are feuding

Last updated on: March 14, 2012 17:27 IST

Uttarakhand: Why Bahuguna and Rawat are feuding

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Rediff News Desk

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

Bahuguna was hastily sworn even as 24 of the 32 Congress MLAs boycotted the ceremony.

On Wednesday, the party tried to play down the controversy, with Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi saying the there was no revolt in the hill state and the issue was a minor one.

But the feud in the Uttarakhand Congress is far from over. Rediff.com gives you a low down on how the Congress victory in Uttarakhand turned sour and what to expect next.    

Remember the Congress won 32 seats against the Bharatiya Janata Party's 31 in the 70-member assembly. The Congress have been assured of support of the seven other MLAs.

Who is Vijay Bahuguna?

A Congress Member of Parliament, Vijay Bahuguna was the vice-president of the Uttarakhand unit of the Congress and is a second-term MP representing Tehri Garhwal.

The sixty-five-year-old Bahuguna is the son of late Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, who was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1973. The new Uttarakhand CM's sister Rita Bahuguna Joshi is currently the president of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee.

He is also the cousin of the BJP's B C Khanduri, the previous Uttarakhand chief minister.

Bahuguna practised as a lawyer before becoming a judge in the Allahabad high court and later the Bombay high court. He quit as a judge and joined politics under the tutelage of his father.

He was also the vice-chairman of the state planning commission during the earlier Congress regime.

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Image: Uttarakhand Governor Margaret Alva administers the oath of office and secrecy to Vijay Bahuguna as the seventh CM of the state


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Uttarakhand: Why Bahuguna and Rawat are feuding

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Who is Harish Rawat?

Harish Rawat is the minister of state for agriculture and parliamentary affairs.

Rawat represents the Hardwar constituency in Uttarakhand.

After pursuing his BA and LLB from the Lucknow University he entered politics. He started his political career as a trade unionist and was a member of the Indian Youth Congress for years. He joined Parliament in 1980 as a Lok Sabha member by defeating Bharatiya Janata Party veteran Dr Murli Manohar Joshi from Almora parliamentary constituency.

In 2000, he was elected the president of the Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress Committee and was replaced by Yashpal Arva. In 2002, he was elected a member of the Rajya Sabha.

Why is Rawat rebelling?

Rawat led the rebellion against Bahuguna saying that he should be made the Uttarakhand chief minister. He claimed he was responsible for the party's victory in the hill state and that he enjoyed the support of many Congress MLAs.

This was evident on Tuesday when Bahuguna's swearing-in ceremony in Dehradun was marred by the absence of 24 party MLAs. Only eight party MLAs attended it.

 

He is backed by senior state leaders like Harak Singh Rawat and Indira Hridayesh.

He is said to have written to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi registering his protest. 


Image: Union Minister Harish Rawat led the rebellion against Vijay Bahuguna being made the Uttarakhand chief minister


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Uttarakhand: Why Bahuguna and Rawat are feuding

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Deja vu for Rawat

This is the second time that Rawat's claim has been ignored as some ten years back N D Tiwari was made the chief minister almost at the 11th hour by the party leadership.

What worked in Bahuguna's favour?

The new Uttarakhand CM is looked at as a loyalist, who comes from a family of Congress activists.

Moreover, since he is a cousin of Khanduri, the Congress believes that the latter won't stand against him in the by-polls.

What worked against Rawat?

The Congress did not do well in the assembly constituencies that come under Rawat's Lok Sabha seat. Rawat was considered to be a threat to factional bosses.


Image: Bahuguna waves to his supporters after his swearing-in ceremony


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Uttarakhand: Why Bahuguna and Rawat are feuding

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Caste politics in Uttarkhand?

The fight between Bahuguna and Rawat has taken caste overtones. It is looked at as a fight between a Brahmin and a Rajput.

Rawat, a Rajput was first snubbed in 2002 when Tiwari, a Brahmin like Bahuguna, was made CM.

The demography of the state has changed today and the Rajputs are a majority.

What next?

Rawat on Wednesday said he will remain loyal to the Congress. He met MP Pradeep Tamta and Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh.

The party is working out a patch-up by offering Rawat's men plum ministries. One can expect a possible elevation for Rawat at the Centre.

Bahuguna is expected to travel to Delhi to meet Sonia Gandhi on Thursday.

The Congress ruled out differences within its ranks and said there is "no revolt" on the issue and the government in Uttarakhand will function normally. Admitting that there are "minor issues", Rashid Alvi said it is not mandatory for all the MLAs to be present during the swearing in of a chief minister.

"There is no revolt or a big problem there which is being hyped there by media... I can assure you that everything is normal in the party. Vijay Bahuguna is chief minister of Uttarakhand and his government will function normally," Alvi told reporters.


Image: Congress supporters in Uttarakhand


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