New Delhi/Dehradun: Amid intense pulls and
pressures, the Congress high command tonight struggled to
choose the next Chief Minister of Uttarakhand amid indications
the leader would be an MLA, ruling out the possibility of MPs
inluding Union Minister Harish Rawat.
The party`s central observers Ghulam Nabi Azad and
Chauhdary Birender Singh, who elicited the views of the
party`s 32 legislators as also 2 independent MLAs in Dehradun
on the leadership issue, submitted their report to party chief
Sonia Gandhi this evening.
Leader of the opposition Harak Singh Rawat, PCC chief
Yashpal Arya and Indira Hirdesh (all MLAs) are among the top
contenders for the CM`s post.
Sources said over a dozen MLAs supporting Harish Rawat
for the top job have arrived in the national capital to
express their solidarity with him. Party MP Vijaya Bahuguna`s
name was also doing the round earlier.
What has complicated Congress` task of choosing the
CLP leader is conflicting choices of the three independents
whose support is crucial for the party`s formation of the
In the 70-member House, Congress emerged as the single
largest party with 32 MLAs - four short of majority--and it
needs support of three Independents and one MLA from
Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (P) to reach the magic figure of 36.
While independent MLA Dinesh Dhanai has openly rooted for
Bahuguna as CM, Mantri Prasad Naithani is on record as backing
Satpal Maharaj while Durgapal, another independent, is backing
The old Thakur-Brahmin rivalry in the state leadership is
another trouble, which could brighten the chance of PCC chief
Yashpal Arya, a Dalit face. A section of Congress leaders is
rooting for him saying it will send a good signal, while
others feel it could benefit BJP in the long run.
Though the party ruled out veteran Congress leader N D
Tewari as among probables, the former Chief Minister`s opinion
does matter. There is also a talk in the party about
experimenting with a woman for the top job.
Azad and Chaudhary earlier held separate talks with each
of the party`s 32 newly-elected MLAs as well as Naithani and
Dhanai--both Congress rebels--as well as the lone UKD
legislator Pritam Singh Panwar.
Harish Durgapal, an independent and another Congress
rebel from Lal Kuan, was not present due to marriage of his
son in Kumaon region.
"We held discussions with the newly-elected MLAs. Now, we
will brief party President Sonia Gandhi on the views of these
MLAs", said Azad in Dehradoon adding the new leader would be
choosen in a day or two.