Congress stands united in Uttarakhand: Harish Rawat

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Dehradun, Mar 23: Amid changing political equations in Uttarakhand after Pauri MP and party heavyweight Satpal Maharaj quit Congress, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Sunday claimed that the party stands united with all its MLAs intact and is ready to take on BJP in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

"There are no fissures in the party as being speculated in a section of the press. The party stands united and is ready to take on BJP with all its might," Rawat told reporters here.

He said after Satpal Maharaj's desertion, Congress MLAs in the state have displayed remarkable unity. Interestingly, Rawat and his predecessor Vijay Bahuguna who behaved like arch rivals until recently yesterday joined each other for a lunch hosted by the latter at his residence along with over a dozen MLAs considered close to Bahuguna and had a long discussion on recent political developments in the state.

Both of them looked very satisfied after the meeting and said they stood united and would remain so in future. PCC chief Yashpal Arya also attended the lunch and said the government was stable.

Satpal Maharaj's wife Amrita Rawat who is a minister in Harish Rawat's Cabinet has also sought to scotch rumours about her plans to follow her husband stating that she is not quitting Congress.

"My husband's switch-over to BJP is his personal decision. Everyone is entitled to their views in a democracy and I am not going to quit Congress," she said in a statement here.

Speculation is on that pressure is being mounted on Rawat to expel Stapal Maharaj's wife from his Cabinet, but the Chief Minister is not in a mood to take any such action due to proximity of the Lok Sabha polls, party sources said.

Satpal Maharaj's desertion is being seen as his reaction to Harish Rawat being annointed Chief Minister. Rawat had lost the race to become CM in 2002 to ND Tiwari primarily due to a vehement opposition by Maharaj to his candidature.

This time also at a meeting of state legislators convened in the presence of AICC observers to discuss Bahuguna's replacement, Amrita Rawat is understood to have strongly opposed Rawat's candidature for the post. Maharaj was also hurt that his wife was deprived of Horticulture in the distribution of portfolios by Rawat.

PTI

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