Sonia Gandhi discusses issue with senior Congress leaders
A grim silence prevailed over the Congress headquarters here on Wednesday even as reports came in that party chief Sonia Gandhi had held a meeting with senior party leaders to clear the confusion created by speculation regarding leadership change in Uttarakhand.
“We are scared to face the negative consequences in the coming gram sabha and Lok Sabha polls if the current confusion continues. The best Ms. Gandhi could do is to immediately announce whether Mr. Vijay Bahuguna would continue as Chief Minister,” said a leader at the Congress Bhawan.
The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has been ridiculing the Congress saying that all development activity had come to a standstill as at least four ambitious ministers had been openly lobbying to oust Mr. Bahuguna. “What is worse is that the Congress high command seems to be silent on the issue meaning that Uttarakhand did not merit any attention among the Congress top wigs,” said Leader of the Opposition Ajay Bhatt, adding that corruption and crime had surpassed all levels under the present Government.
A senior minister said that Ms. Gandhi had held a meeting with party general secretary in-charge of Uttarakhand Ambika Soni, leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Janardhan Dwivedi and Ahmed Patel on Wednesday to discuss the turmoil in Uttarakhand. She is likely to take a call on the fate of Mr. Bahuguna soon. It may be mentioned that Ministers Indira Hirdeyesh, Harak Singh Rawat, Yashpal Arya and Union Minister Harish Rawat have been lobbying for the top job over the past month. Ms. Hirdeyesh went to the extent of publicly announcing that she was the senior most and thus most deserving to be Chief Minister.
Mr. Bahuguna too launched a signature campaign in his favour and submitted a list of 22 MLAs to Ms. Soni recently. MLAs Nav Prabhat and Pranav Champion, however, denied signing any letter favouring Mr. Bahuguna.
Several MLAs close to Mr. Rawat are said to be in touch with legislators of the ruling coalition partner Progressive Democratic Front to support him. PDF chairperson Mantri Prasad Naithani, however, maintained that their support was for the Congress and not any particular person as Chief Minister. “We do hope the Congress high command puts an end to speculation and consult us before naming a new Chief Minister,” he said.