As he completes a year in office this month, BJP's youngest Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal of Uttarakhand doesn't mince words. He wants to develop his own model of governance-and not ape either his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi or Karnataka's B.S. Yeddyurappa.
"My situation is different. I want to do it in my style. Uttarakhand is not Gujarat nor Karnataka," he said in an interview with HT. “I want to develop a new model because we are a hilly state with a different problems though I’m open to adopting their ideas that suits us.”
Pokhriyal, like other BJP CMs, was at a governance meet last weekend in Mumbai called by party chief Nitin Gadkari to press for performance in the saffron-ruled states.
A year ago, he replaced B.C. Khanduri as CM following an upsurge in dissidence in the party over the drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls. The party lost all five seats. He wasn't seen either as a close loyalist of Khanduri or dissidents' chief B.S. Koshiyari.
Pokhriyal, 51, was the health minister in Khanduri's cabinet and was a close confidant of the latter. He was instrumental in averting Khanduri's ouster at least on three occasions.
Pokhriyal, who has a pen-name Nishank having authored many poems, decided his priority was to do a balancing act between the demands of the Sangh Parivar, BJP brass and party MLAs, to buy peace.
“My first challenge was to sort out the grievances of the MLAs (who were upset with Khanduri's style of functioning), and then prepare for the four-month long Kumbh Mela (which was attended by 80 million),” he said.
“I am a grassroot BJP worker,” said Pokhriyal when asked what he had done to please the recalcitrant MLAs. “Everybody wants to move up the ladder. Cadres associate with a leader because they think they can grow. My approach is to help, and not be driven by bureaucracy. “
If Pokhriyal's handling of the Kumbh — which won praise — wasn't enough for the Sangh Parivar, he went on to fulfill two of their demands: launch a Ganga clean-up campaign and declare Sanskrit as an official language of the state.