Despite a sweeping victory in the Uttarakhand assembly election, the central leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will not find it easy to name a chief minister of their choice, party insiders said on Sunday.
It will not easy for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah to foist a leader of their choice as the chief minister, they said.
“One BJP veteran, who can stymie such a move to realise his chief ministerial ambition, is former state party chief Bhagat Singh Koshiyari,” a source in the BJP, told Hindustan Times.
“Koshiyari can resist such a move if the BJP central leadership picks somebody else for the top post ignoring his claim as majority of the 57 elected legislators are loyal to him,” he said, adding that Koshiyari might oppose the nomination of BJP national executive member Satpal Maharaj for the top job.
Maharaj, who joined the BJP after the 2014 Lok Sabha election, is said to be the central leadership’s favourite for the chief ministerial post and is close to the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological fount.
Apart from Koshiyari, three other claimants to the chief ministerial post, including state party chief Ajay Bhatt, former ministers Prakash Pant and Trivendra Singh Rawat, too are opposed to the BJP’s central leadership favouring Maharaj for the top post.
Among them, Koshiyari and Bhatt have been RSS workers while Rawat served as a pracharak.
“All these (BJP) veterans consider Maharaj as a rank outsider and also a major threat to their political career,” a senior party leader, who did not wish to be named, said.
“They perceive him as a go-getter, who will outshine them all once picked for the top post.”
A source in the BJP said that if the party’s central leadership refused to accept Koshiyari’s claim, the later will recommend the name of two of his protégées–Rawat and Pant for the post of chief minister.
“Koshiyari will follow that strategy to sidetrack Maharaj, who is also not acceptable to any of the four former chief ministers, including BC Khanduri, Koshiyari, Vijay Bahuguna and Ramesh Pokhariyal,” the source said.
BJP insiders said that if Koshiyari insists on the name of Pant and Rawat, the central leadership of the party will have to accept either of the two, for the top job.
“Of the two, Rawat can be acceptable to our central leadership as he was a former RSS pracharak and is a good administrator,” a state BJP leader said.
“Rawat has the support of most of the legislators compared to Pant.”
State BJP vice president JP Gairola denied the speculations, saying the party won the assembly election with a huge majority, so, any name suggested by the central parliamentary board for the post of the chief minister, will be unanimously seconded by the party’s legislature wing.