Azad in talks with newly-elected MLAs in Uttarakhand

In the 70-member Uttarakhand Assembly House, Congress has 32 MLAs - four short of majority.

Updated: Mar 10, 2012, 12:07 PM IST

Dehradun: Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is here as a central observer, is holding talks with the 32 newly-elected MLAs of the party in Uttarakhand where
factional feuds have created hurdles in CLP leader`s election.

The Union Health Minister along with party general secretary Chaudhary Birendra Singh is holding one-to-one talks with the MLAs at Bijapur guest house here following which they would present a report card to the party high command on the
choice of the new CLP leader, party sources said.

"The one-to-one talks have started," said PCC chief Yashpal Arya.

The move came as the party high command faces a difficult task to chose new leader of the CLP.

Already, certain conditions put up by Independents, who hold the key to government formation, have created hurdles in the CLP leader`s election.

In the 70-member House, Congress has 32 MLAs - four short of majority - with three Independents and one MLA from UKD(P), helping the party to reach the magic figure of 36.

Sources said groupism within Congress was delaying the process of choosing the Congress Legislature Party leader.

"It is due to severe groupism that Congress high command has sent the special observer [Azad] to elicit views of the newly-elected party MLAs," a Congress leader said.

Singh said, "We will take views of all the MLAs and elect new CLP leader very shortly.

"The party appears to be divided into three to four camps headed by Union Minister Harish Rawat, former union minister Satpal Maharaj, senior leader Vijay Bahuguna and PCC chief Yashpal Arya.

"I want Maharaj to be the CM," Anusuiya Prasad Maikhuri, Congress MLA from Karnprayag, said.

Besides, Leader of the Opposition in the previous House Harak Singh Rawat and senior leader Indira Hridayesh were being projected as the new CLP leader.

In 2002 also, severe infighting between loyalists of ND Tiwari and Harish Rawat had created problems for formation of the Congress government.

Congress rebel from Devprayag, Mantri Prasad Naithani, who won as Independent, backed Maharaj. "I have conveyed to Sonia Gandhiji that Satpal Maharaj should be the new CM," Naithani said.

Similarly, Dinesh Dhanai, an independent from Tehri was backing Bahuguna while Harish Durgapal, an MLA from La Kuan, was supporting Hridayesh.