Bahuguna placates dissidents ahead of bypoll
Dehra Dun: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Tuesday allocated agriculture portfolio to a loyalist of his bete noire Harish Rawat and entrusted responsibilities to six other MLAs, in an apparent move to placate dissidents ahead of contesting Sitarganj bypolls.
Apart from agriculture, Harak Singh Rawat, who was inducted as the 11th minister in the state cabinet three days ago, was given portfolios of agriculture marketing, agriculture education, medical education and sainik welfare, Bahunga told reporters here.
The portfolio of agriculture was till now being held by Mantri Prasad Naithani, an independent MLA from Devprayag, who has now been left with the portfolios of school education and drinking water.
The other portfolios given to Rawat were held by the Chief Minister.
Bahuguna also said the portfolios of other ministers would be reshuffled once he is elected to the Vidhan Sabha in the July 8 bypolls. "There would be a comprehensive reshuffle in the responsibilities of ministers after the process of my election to the Vidhan Sabha is over", Bahuguna said.
Sarbat Karim Ansari, a loyalist of Union Minister Harish Rawat who had opposed Bahuguna's nomination as chief minister in March and was himself a contender for the post, was made chairman of the state housing board.
Kunwar Pranav Singh 'Champion', a Congress MLA from Khanpur, was made chairman of Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation on the recommendation of Harish Rawat.
Dinesh Dhanai, an independent MLA from Tehri, who had created a ruckus after he was not inducted into the cabinet, was given the responsibility of the chairman of the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN), a state government enterprise.
Besides, three Congress MLAs Vijaypal Sajwan (Gangotri), Narayanram Araya (Gangolihaat) and Ganesh Godiyal (Srinagar) were also appointed parliamentary secretaries.
Significantly, the new announcements came at a time when Bahuguna is all set to file his nomination papers from Sitarganj tomorrow.
Bahuguna has also appealed to the party leaders and workers not to rush to Sitarganj saying that it was a small place but dismissed suggestions it was due to fears of the severe infighting in the ruling Congress.
However, Harish Rawat appealed to the chief minister to allow him to visit Sitarganj for campaigning and extended his good wishes to Bahuguna.
Rawat also demanded that Furkan Ahmed, a Congress MLA from Pirankaliyar should be elevated to the post of chief parliamentary secretary with independent charge of industry and minority welfare departments.