Uttarakhand Chief Min Bahuguna to face major test on Mar 26

Vijay Bahuguna
New Delhi, Mar 26: After a prolonged crisis in the ruling Congress in Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna faces his first acid test on Monday, Mar 26 when the election of Speaker will take place in the Assembly ahead of the trust vote.

After acquiescing to the demands of Union Minister Harish Rawat, the Congress on Sunday fielded his close confidant Govind Singh Kunjwal for the post of speaker by filing nomination papers.

And to make the contest interesting, BJP too fielded party heavyweight Harbans Kapoor, a former speaker, to face Kunjwal in the contest in what is now being seen as the first trial of strength for Bahuguna.

Despite BJP jumping into the fray, Bahuguna remained confident and said Kunjwal would emerge victorious. "There was never any problem. All is well," said an elated Bahuguna.

Rawat, who had sounded a revolt earlier, too landed at the Vidhan Sabha and stood by Bahuguna to give the message that there were no fissures in the ruling party.

"We are happy that nomination of Kunjwal has been filed," said Rawat, whose all the supporting MLAs were also present during the filing of nomination papers.

Mahendra Singh Mahra, another Rawat loyalist, is also set to become the Rajya Sabha member.

"We are all united at the juncture and there is no crisis in Congress," said Manoj Tiwari, an MLA from Almora and die-hard supporter of Rawat.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Indira Hridayesh, who is the only cabinet minister to get portfolio, also said Congress will win the election of speaker comfortably.

Meanwhile, Bahguna said he would first prove his majority in the house before distributing rest of the portfolios among the remaining nine cabinet ministers.

"My first priority is to win the trust vote," said Bahuguna, who reached Dehra Dun from New Delhi where he held talks with senior Congress leaders to resolve various issues confronting his government.

Bahuguna, who had gone to New Delhi on Wednesday, said he has held meetings with various Union Ministers, who have assured him that they would help Uttarakhand in development works.

Significantly, Bahuguna had also discussed the issues related to distribution of portfolios among Cabinet Ministers with senior party leaders in New Delhi as most of the new Cabinet Ministers are eying plum departments like PWD, industry, power, tourism, irrigation, excise and forest.

After the election of the Speaker, Bahuguna will have to face the crucial trust vote in the floor of the newly constituted house, the first session of which has been convened by Governor Margaret Alva on Mar 27.


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