Rawat supporters unhappy over Sonia choice

New Delhi: Soon after Vijay Bahuguna was named as Uttarakhand Chief Minister, factional feud on Monday night came to the fore in Congress` state unit with legislators supporting union minister Harish Rawat huddled in a meeting but he appeared to rule out splitting the party.

Raising slogans, angry supporters of Rawat, who gathered at his house here, wanted to know why he was ignored for the top slot and egged him to split the party. Emerging from the meeting, Rawat told PTI that "I am a Congressman, thorough and thorough".

In a bid to placate a sulking Rawat, Bahuguna, his sister and UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi met the union minister at his residence.

Asked what transpired at the meeting with the brother-sister duo, Rawat said "they had come to console a loser".

Replying to a question as to how many MLAs backed him, Rawat declined to specify the number and merely said "all of them are Sonia Gandhi`s MLAs. They came to console me and I also consoled them". I`m a loser".

He declined to answer a question about his future course of action. Asked if he would boycott Tuesday`s swearing-in ceremony of Bahuguna as Chief Minister, Rawat said "I have a sore threat and am not keeping well. Let`s see".

Asked about rumours that he has resigned from union council of ministers, Rawat said "it`s news to me". Sources said 18 legislators owing allegiance to Rawat confabulated with him till late in the night.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who was authorised by party MLAs to take a decision in the matter, chose Bahuguna after taking the views of party MPs and MLAs, Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters outside 10 Janpath, the residence of Gandhi, here earlier in the day.

The choice of Bahuguna, a cousin of outgoing BJP chief minister B C Khanduri, was made by Gandhi after the party high command had grappled with the issue for days amid diverse pulls and pressures created by several claimants to the top post and demand by independent MLAs whose support is crucial to Congress` securing majority and formation of government.