January 30, 2014

Bahuguna resigning as Uttarakhand Chief Minister

The Congress High Command, after several months of vacillation, decided to replace Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna who has been embroiled in controversies regarding last year's flash flood rehabilitation, and the CM has now resigned.
New Delhi: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna reportedly submitted his resignation to the Governor on Thursday. He has been under attack for irregularities in the handling of the relief and rehabilitation following the recent flash floods.

Indications are that Union Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat will take over as the next Chief Minister. He is reportedly the High Command's choice and has the support of the party's partners in the Government. Finance Minister Indira Hridyesh and Civil Supplies Minister Pritam Singh are other aspirants.

A meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) will be held on February 1 to elect a new leader. The Congress had won 33 seats in the elections held on 30 January 2012, in the 70-seat legislature. It took support from Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD), three independents and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to form the Government. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 31 seats.

The Congress is sending three Central observers to Dehradun to organise the legislators to facilitate a smooth changing of the of guard. The three - Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, AICC general secretaries Ambika Soni and Janardan Dwivedi - will conduct the legislature party meeting.

A decision to replace Bahuguna was hanging fire for several months. With Lok Sabha election around, the Congress is also keen on regaining its fortunes now declining in the state. It had won all five seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha election.

Harish Rawat has a strong support base in Garhwal and Kumaon regions. He had staked claim for the CM's post twice in the past. Starting his political career in 1972, Rawat has been a Congress leader since. Thakur by caste, he is a law graduate from Lucknow University.

Vijay Bahuguna, born in Allahabad, is son of the late HN Bahuguna, who was a leading politician from UP. Vijay Bahuguna was a member of the 14th and 15th Lok Sabhas representing the Tehri Garhwal constituency of Uttarakhand. He was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand on 13 March 2012. Vijay Bahuguna's sister Rita Bahuguna was president of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee till recently.

The party's state unit too is headless with Yashpal Arya's resignation some time ago.

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