Uttarakhand rebels rule out return to Congress

Former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, on his return from New Delhi, told the media here on Thursday that the nine Congress rebels who stood against former Chief Minister Harish Rawat on March 18 were ready for a battle with him.

"We are not standing behind Harish Rawat, we are arrayed against him," Mr. Bahuguna said. The nine rebels voted against the Appropriation Bill in the Assembly on March 18, which finally led to the dislodging of the Harish Rawat-led Congress government in the State.

Mr. Bahuguna and Mr. Rawat were rivals from the time the former was made Chief Minister in 2012. Mr. Rawat, after two years of trying to dislodge Mr. Bahuguna, had finally replaced him as Chief Minister in February 2013. Currently, Mr. Bahuguna is among the nine who revolted against the Rawat government.

With the current political and legal issues the Congress and the BJP are facing, there was speculation on whether the nine would wish to return to the party. Clarifying the stance of the “rebels," Mr. Bahuguna said there were no intentions of return to the Congress. “We have come too far," he said.

The nine MLAs were recently disqualified by the Uttarakhand Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal. They have appealed in the High Court against the disqualification, which they called “unconstitutional.” A hearing on it is scheduled for April 1.

Stating that he was aware of the consequences of their rebellion, Mr. Bahuguna said, "We took a political step. Ek sarkar giraee hai; jaan boojh ke giraae hai, uske consequences kya hote hain ham jante hain [We toppled a government intentionally and we are aware of the consequences of our actions]."

'Single-man army'
Mr. Bahuguna said Mr. Rawat was a “single-man army." "An obsession with power is bad and Harish Rawat has lost friends, leaders, party workers as a result of his obsession."

Stating that the nine MLAs were still deciding on their future course of action, Mr. Bahuguna said, “We stood for the betterment of Uttarakhand and when it is about Uttarakhand then relationships or political parties don’t matter.”

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