Ghulam Nabi Azad hears views of party MLAs individually

Consensus could not be reached on who should head the Congress Legislature Party in Uttarakhand and central observer Ghulam Nabi Azad and party in-charge of the State, Ch. Birendra Singh returned to New Delhi for consultations with the high command on Saturday.

The Congress has 32 MLAs of its own and enjoys the support of three independents — all Congress rebels who won — and the lone Uttarakhand Kranti Dal ( Pawar) MLA — taking the total to the magic figure of 36 in a House of 70 having 31 Bharatiya Janata Party and three Bahujan Samaj Party members.

Mr. Azad will give his report to party president Sonia Gandhi who after consultations with the core group will announce the name of the CLP leader and subsequently the Chief Minister of the State.

The observer listened to the views of all 32 MLAs individually at the Bijapur Guest House here. The three independent MLAs supporting the Congress could not come as they were busy, it was said.

The MLAs are said to have backed different candidates — Union Minister Harish Rawat, MP Vijay Bahuguna, State Congress president Yashpal Arya, Leader of the Opposition Harak Singh Rawat, former senior Minister Indira Hirdeyesh and MP Satpal Maharaj — leaving Mr. Azad bewildered as none of them commanded general acceptance.

The maximum number of MLAs, 17, seem to be supporting Mr. Harish Rawat followed by 15 supporting Mr. Arya.

“These differences of opinion will end the moment Sonia Gandhi announces the name of the leader,” a senior Congressman said.