Congress garners numbers, to stake claim in Uttarakhand

The Congress Friday said it would form the government in Uttarakhand with the support of three independents and a regional party member, ending days of uncertainty after a hung verdict in the hill state.

"We are meeting Governor Margaret Alva and will formally stake the claim to form the new government," state Congress chief Yashpal Arya said.

He told reporters that he has letters of support from all the three independent members and the lone lawmaker from the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal-Panwar (UKD-P), Pritam Singh Panwar.

Dinesh Dhanai, one of the independents, confirmed his support to the Congress.

Uncertainty had engulfed government formation in the state following the election results Tuesday, with no party crossing the halfway mark of 35 members in the state assembly.

The Congress emerged as the single largest party with 32 members followed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with 31. The BJP, which ruled the state in the last five years, had also maintained that it would try to retain power.

But with four more legislators backing it, the Congress has 36 members supporting it in the 70-member assembly.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) got three seats but has so far kept its cards close to its chest on whether or not to support the Congress.

However, the BSP said it was in talks with both the Congress and the BJP before taking a final decision on extending support to either of the two.

"We are in contact with both BJP as well as Congress," said BSP leader Surajmal, known only by his first name.

Surajmal said party chief Mayawati would decide the issue of being part of the new government or remaining in the opposition. "Whatever direction comes from Mayawatiji, we will follow."

Congress leader Arya said the decision regarding leader of the Congress Legislative Party would be taken by the party national leadership in New Delhi.

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