February 1, 2014

Rawat sworn in as Uttarakhand’s Chief Minister; Bahuguna goes

Following allegations, Uttarakhand’s Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has been removed by the Congress High Command, and Union Minister Harish Rawat sworn in as the new CM.
Dehra Dun: Union Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat was on Saturday sworn in as Uttarakhand’s Chief Minister at the Raj Bhavan in Dehradun. Vijay Bahuguna had resigned from the post on Friday as per the directive from the Congress High Command following allegations of mismanagement of the recent flash flood rehabilitation operations.

Rawat has retained all the 11 ministers of the Bahuguna government. He is the MP from Haridwar. He had wanted to become the CM in 2002 and after the 2012 Assembly elections.

On Saturday, the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) passed a resolution authorising Congress president Sonia Gandhi to select a new leader. Bahuguna made the proposal to authorise the Congress president to select the leader.

“Congress president Sonia Gandhi made her choice as Harish Rawat,” AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi later announced. Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and AICC general secretary Ambika Soni were thye other two observers sent from Delhi to conduct the CLP meeting.

State Finance Minister Indira Hridyesh and Civil Supplies Minister Pritam Singh were other aspirants.

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.

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.

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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