Former BJP MLA from Sitarganj given ministerial rank

The Congress government in Uttarakhand on Tuesday gave a ministerial rank to former BJP MLA and Kumaon Division Development Corporation chairman Kiran Mandal who vacated his Sitarganj Assembly seat to pave the way for Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna to contest from there.

The ministerial rank given to Mandal will take effect from the day he assumes office as the corporation's chief, official sources said today citing an order issued by the state tourism department.

Mandal was appointed Chairman of the Kumaon Division Development Corporation, a tourism promotion body, after Bahuguna's victory from Sitarganj in Udham Singh Nagar district in July this year.

The state government's gesture is being seen as a reward to Mandal for vacating his constituency to facilitate the chief minister's entry into the state Assembly.

At the time Bahuguna took over as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand earlier this year, he represented the Tehri constituency in the Lok Sabha and needed to contest and win an Assembly seat within six months to enter the House which was made available to him by Mandal who resigned from the seat.

Bahuguna emerged victorious from the seat defeating his nearest rival from the BJP with a record margin to ensure his entry into the state Assembly. Mandal, who represents the Bengali community, is said to have played a crucial role in the chief minister's victory from the seat.

Winning the Sitarganj bypoll was vital for Congress as it had won just one seat more than the BJP in the state Assembly elections. Bahuguna's victory from the seat took its tally in the state Assembly to 33.

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