Dehradun, March 15 (IANS) After the Holi break, that followed the landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the rout of the ruling Congress in the hill state of Uttarakhand, political activity is picking up on both sides of the spectrum.
While hectic parleying is underway in the BJP to select the next Chief Minister and the Cabinet, the Congress, which tanked to a low of 11 is contemplating a major rejig.
Sources told IANS that of the 56 elected MLAs of the BJP, more than two dozen were aspiring for ministerial berths.
The BJP central leadership is faced with a double dilemma – selection of a Chief Minister from at least six aspirants and naming ministers as there cannot be more than a dozen.
Major names doing the rounds for the Chief Minister’s post include Satpal Maharaj, Trivendra Rawat and Prakash Pant. All CM hopefuls are camping in New Delhi, “setting the chess board in their favour” a senior leader said, privy to the parleying for the top post.
There are a few former Chief Ministers of the hill state who, though not openly, are said to be also harbouring ambitions of returning to the top post.
Senior leaders like Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Vijay Bahuguna and Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank could also be considered, feel some.
Ministerial berth hopefuls include Yashpal Arya, Balwant Singh Bhauryal and Banshidhar Bhagat along with former state BJP chief Bishan Singh Chufal and Harak Singh Rawat.
Both Harak Singh and Yashpal Arya switched to the BJP from the Congress. Subodh Uniyal and Khajan Das, a senior leader told IANS they were also in the race. Uniyal is close to Vijay Bahuguna who has been instrumental in the BJP sweep in the polls. Among the women, the name of Rekha Arya is doing the rounds.
But as the process of government formation gets underway, the Congress is still reeling from its worst ever rout.
As signalled by Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Tuesday, the party could witness a major rejig in the coming days, after the formality of “atma chintan” (introspection) is undertaken.
A senior Congress leader said while everyone, including the caretaker Chief Minister Harish Rawat, were still smarting from the shock of the complete decimation at the hands of the BJP, an overhaul of the state unit was imminent.
“After this rout, we cannot sit back and let the remaining strength of the party diminish further,” the leader said while suggesting that the way ahead may be difficult but the party leadership will take a call soon to “get our act together”.
Before the elections the writ of two leaders — Harish Rawat as Chief Minister and Kishore Upadhyaya as the state unit chief — ran large in the state.
Incidentally both the leaders lost their respective seats. It is now believed that the Congress high command is toying with the idea of naming either Govind Singh Kunjwal, Preetam Singh or the time-tested Indira Hridyesh as the Leader of Opposition in the assembly.
No name was being considered for the state unit chief as yet, a source said while adding that the issue will be settled later.
For now, the climb for the Congress is as steep as many of the hills in the picturesque state.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])