U'khand CM meets Sonia to discuss portfolio allocation

Vijay Bahunga
Dehradun, Apr 1: After winning the crucial trust vote earlier this week, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna held a meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday to discuss portfolio allocation for ministers of the newly-sworn in government in the state where the party had faced a revolt by Union Minister Harish Rawat's loyalists.

The leadership is likely to placate all the sections in the faction-ridden state unit and the exercise of portfolio allocation is set to be a tricky affair, sources said.

The meeting took place a day after the Congress government in the state crossed one more hurdle in its bid to consolidate its position by winning the Rajya Sabha seat. It defeated the BJP by eight votes.

Congress nominee Mahendra Singh Mahra, a Rawat loyalist, got 39 votes and Anil Goyal of BJP bagged 31 votes in the 70-member House.

Mr Rawat's camp, which had raised a banner of revolt opposing the nomination of Mr Bahuguna as Chief Minister, had to finally agree to "no change in Chief Ministership" stand of the party high command but Rawat loyalists are likely to get key portfolios in the state Cabinet.

Mr Rawat, who spearheaded the rebel camp, came on board after a compromise was worked out.

Though there is no official word about the party agreeing to the demand by the Rawat camp for the Deputy Chief Minister's post, there is a buzz that the demand could be conceded but not immediately.

The Congress earlier won the election for the post of the Speaker and the trust vote, both of which are being seen as a major boost to the chief minister.

The Congress, which emerged as the single largest party short of majority managed to secure the support of independents, the BSP and the lone Uttarakhand Kranti Dal MLA to notch up a comfortable majority in the assembly.

After bickering in the Congress, Mr Rawat negotiated with the party high command to get the Rajya Sabha berth for Mr Mahra as well as the Speaker's post for Mr Kunjwal.


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