DEHRA DUN: With exit polls showing a Congress victory in the Uttarakhand Assembly elections, hectic lobbying has begun in the state unit of the party for the post of chief minister.
Spokesman Surendra Kumar admitted that lobbying for the top post is on and said, "It is natural that everybody would like to make some efforts."
With its state leaders camping in New Delhi, Congress sources said the party high command may have a tough time in choosing the new leader from the state party unit, which is deeply divided in different groups.
Unlike the 2002 Assembly elections, when party heavyweight N D Tiwari was chosen for the top job, this time the political situation has significantly altered since the former chief minister has already been ruled out of the contention due to his poor health and certain court cases.
After him, three other top leaders Harish Rawat, Satpal Maharaj and Vijay Bahuguna should be considered as frontrunners for the race of top job, the sources said.
But since all the three leaders are Lok Sabha members, the Congress high command may not prefer them as a choice for the post of chief minister this time.
There were "indications" that a new leader from amongst the MLAs can be picked instead, they said, adding that leader of the opposition Harak Singh Rawat, Indira Hridayesh and Yashpal Arya are top contenders.
However, party leaders were not confident that Rawat would be able to win Rudraprayag seat this time, where he is facing a formidable challenge from state irrigation minister Matbar Singh Kandari, they claimed.
In case Rawat loses, then the party high command's choice would further be restricted to Arya and Hridayesh, who are also being backed by Tiwari, they said.
But the Harish Rawat group, which is at loggerheads with the Tiwari group, has already started opposing Arya on grounds that he is a Dalit leader.
"Uttarakhand is a state with majority being that of upper castes. So naturally, we should have leader from upper caste only," said another Congress source, who is close to Rawat.
"So who will be the king? This remains the million dollars question in the state," a top Congress leader said.