Dehradun: Just a few months ahead of the assembly elections, the BJP in Uttarakhand is battling the threat of defection from its legislators. On Friday, state forest minister Harak Singh Rawat walked out of a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, threatening to resign.
Rawat remained incommunicado even as the BJP leadership denied reports that the minister, along with four other party MLAs, may join the Congress in the coming days.
Ministers present in the meeting told ThePrint that Rawat had left in a huff as his demand for funds for the construction of a new medical college in his constituency Kotwdar was not considered by the cabinet.
“He had some grievances as to providing funds for the medical college by the cabinet. This was sorted out later and he has been pacified by the senior party leaders in Delhi. Things have been sorted out and soon I will meet him to discuss his issues further,” state BJP president Madan Kaushik told ThePrint.
“He is currently maintaining a distance with the media but will meet CM and him tonight to resolve his issues. All his grievances will be met,” Kaushik added.
BJP leaders in Uttarakhand, however, said that in addition to the medical college fund, Rawat has other demands too, but the BJP leadership has failed to address them.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Dhami told the media Saturday, “It’s a family matter and we will sort it out together. There is no pressure from Harak Singh Rawat. At times there are some compulsions from ones constituency but will deal with it.”
Return to Congress?
Speculations are rife that Rawat, along with four other BJP MLAs, is likely to return to Congress. These MLAs belong to the group of nine rebel legislators who had quit the Congress party under the leadership of former CM Vijay Bahugna in 2017, parting ways with the then chief minister Harish Rawat.
Responding to the reports, Pritam Singh, senior Congress legislator and Leader of the Opposition in the House, said doors of Congress are open for Harak Rawat but the final decision depends on the party’s high command.
When asked if he spoke to Rawat after the minister walked out of the cabinet meeting, Singh said, “Everything cannot be said in words but you must know we have been speaking every now and then. He had been our former colleague and we will welcome him if he wants to return to the party.”
Harak Rawat has had several meetings with Pritam Singh and telephonic conversations with Harish Rawat in the past.