DEHRA DUN/NEW DELHI: Having fallen short of majority, rival contenders for power Congress and BJP today began efforts to rope in potential allies to form a government in Uttarakhand with their leaders speaking to BSP, independent and Uttarakhand Kranti Dal MLAs over phone.
While Congress has emerged as the single largest party with 32 seats in the 70-member House, BJP finished one less seat in a cliff-hanger contest for the state assembly polls.
BSP has won three seats, Uttarkhand Kranti Dal one and independents three.
Senior Congress leader Vijay Bahuguna claimed to reporters in Dehradun that some independents have promised support to Congress.
He said the party leaders have spoken to the independent MLAs and some BSP legislators over phone.
Asked if the party has secured the support of independents, Baghuguna said "yes, we have. We have because a majority of them are from Congress background. They have already pledged their support and we are in touch with others also."
To a question on the total number of MLAs who would back Congress' bid to form government he said "I think it will touch about 38".
Bahuguna said a meeting of CLP has been convened today which will adopt a resolution authorizing party President Sonia Gandhi to nominate a CM and "she will do that in a day or two"
A delegation of state Congress party leaders held talks with Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on the issue of formation of new government.
After the meeting, Congress general secretary incharge of Uttarakhand Birender Singh said that "before presenting our CM candidate, we will ensure that we must have the requisite number. After that, we will take a decision".
Singh claimed the first right to form the government in Uttarakhand is of Congress and he is hopeful that independents and MLAs from BSP will support Congress as barring one or two, all of them were associated with his party at some time.
"Most of the independent MLAs and even those who belong to BSP or UKD, except one or two, all have Congress background. Some of them are rebels. Even in BSP, those who have got elected have some connection with Congress. I feel that their preference will be Congress," Singh said.
A Congress, requesting anonymity, claimed all the three indpendent MLAs and the lone UKD legislator reached Dehradun this evening and "they are with us".
On the other hand, state BJP general secretary Suresh Chandra too claimed the party has spoken to the independent MLAs on phone seeking their support but declined to say what was the response from them.
BJP central leadership rushed Rajnath Singh and Ananth Kumar to Uttarakhand to explore the possibility of putting together a coalition government and held consultations with party MLAs for working out options in this regard.
"We have come here to assess the political situation...No possibility can be ruled out," said Singh while replying to a question whether BJP is hopeful of forming its government again in the state.
He did not reply to media queries on whether the party is seeking BSP's support to form its government in Uttarakhand and merely said, "these are hypothetical questions".