Azad talks with newly-elected MLAs in Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun: Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is here as a central observer, is holding talks with the 32 newly-elected MLAs of the party in Uttarakhand where factional feuds have created hurdles in CLP leader`s election.

The union health minister along with party general secretary Chaudhary Birendra Singh is holding one-to-one talks with the MLAs at Bijapur guest house here following which they would present a report card to the party high command on the choice of the new CLP leader, party sources said.

"The one-to-one talks have started," said PCC chief Yashpal Arya. The move came as the party high command faces a difficult task to chose new leader of the CLP.

Already, certain conditions put up by Independents, who hold the key to government formation, have created hurdles in the CLP leader`s election.

In the 70-member House, Congress has 32 MLAs – four short of majority – with three Independents and one MLA from UKD(P), helping the party to reach the magic figure of 36.

Sources said groupism within Congress was delaying the process of choosing the Congress Legislature Party leader.

"It is due to severe groupism that Congress high command has sent the special observer Azad to elicit views of the newly-elected party MLAs," a Congress leader said.

Singh said, "We will take views of all the MLAs and elect new CLP leader very shortly.

"The party appears to be divided into three to four camps headed by Union Minister Harish Rawat, former Union Minister Satpal Maharaj, senior leader Vijay Bahuguna and PCC chief Yashpal Arya.

"I want Maharaj to be the CM," Anusuiya Prasad Maikhuri, Congress MLA from Karnprayag, said. .