NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Uttarakhand Assembly elections early next year along with that in Uttar Pradesh, 45-year-old former RSS pracharak and BJP MLA Pushkar Singh Dhami is all set to be sworn in on Sunday as the 11th youngest chief minister of the hill state, the first person from Kumaon to hold the post, two days after Tirath Singh Rawat resigned at the party high command's diktat.
In a its latest political gambit, the BJP has chosen a young Thakur face from the Kumaon region. The state’s last two chief ministers were from the Garhwal region. But the problem is that Dhami was not even a minister in either the Trivendra Singh Rawat or the Tirath Singh Rawat government and has superseded many senior leaders to the chair.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who was rushed to Dehradun to host a meeting of party MLAs as the leadership's central observer, announced that Dhami was a unanimous choice. He said the BJP has appointed a common worker, son of an ex-serviceman, born in the border district of Pithoragarh, to serve the people.
The BJP state unit is infested with factionalism, which is the biggest challenge for Dhami. a 2-time MLA from Khatima in Udham Singh Nagar district; he has to now lead the BJP and help it retain power in the state. Changing chief ministers twice in a short span of four months has not helped the party's image with the Congress accusing the BJP of inflicting "political instability" in the state.
Tomar said Dhami's name was proposed by outgoing CM Rawat and State BJP chief Madan Kaushik; it was seconded by a score of MLAs, including former CM Trivendra Singh Rawat.
Party insiders said the leadership found Tirath incapable of improving the party's image and end factionalism; another hitch was that no by-election could be held to get him elected to the Assembly by September 10, within six months of his anointment.
The Election Commission had hinted that no by-election may be held as the practice is not to hold it if the remaining tenure of the House is for less than a year. The EC source, however, said nobody from the BJP even approached it for conducting the by-elections, in the special circumstances of the continuation of the CM at stake.
This is not for the first time that the BJP has changed its chief ministers. Four chief ministers were changed during the tenure of the previous Assembly as well.