Congress increases tally in Uttarakhand Assembly



Dehradun: The ruling Congress in Uttarakhand on Wednesday got a boost after Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna won from Sitarganj with a record margin that increased its total tally to 33 in the 70-member House.

However, with the defeat of BJP's candidate Prakash Pant, the strength of the saffron party has been reduced to 30 in the House where three independents, three of BSP and one lone member of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) are supporting the ruling Congress.

"The victory of Congress in Sitarganj will strengthen the position of Bahuguna immensely in the hill state as the main opposition BJP has been given a severe drubbing by voters," said Suryakant Dhasmana, state Congress vice president.

The election results on March 6 had given a fractured mandate in Uttarakhand with Congress winning 32 seats followed closely by BJP with 31 seats.

But after the results, all the 7 non-BJP MLAs supported the Congress in government formation with the high command bringing in Bahuguna to head the state.

In May, BJP MLA Kiran Mandal resigned from Sitarganj to facilitate his election from the area and "for the sake of development of his constituency".

Congress sources said "Mandal would now get a red-beacon fitted car", a sign of ministerial-level post in the hill state.

With today's victory, Bahuguna is likely to increase his hold on the ruling Congress vis-a-vis that of his bete noire Harish Rawat, who wanted to become chief minister.

Though Bahuguna has ruled out any Cabinet reshuffle, the sources said any such move cannot be ruled out in the next two to three months.

"Obviously, Bahuguna will give some key posts to his own supporters, who have got nothing so far," said a top Congress leader. This also means that Rawat’s supporters may be axed from the cabinet in any such future move, the sources said.

PTI