Demands of former CMs keep BJP on its toes in Uttarakhand
The BJP is running its campaign without a chief ministerial candidate in Uttarakhand, resulting in bitter rivalry among contenders.india Updated: Dec 21, 2016 09:26 IST
Four former chief ministers of Uttarakhand are giving the BJP leadership sleepless nights with their demands ranging from election tickets to kin and loyalists to projecting them as the party’s face in the state.
The BJP is running its campaign without a chief ministerial candidate, resulting in bitter rivalry among contenders.
Major General (Retd) BC Khanduri wants a ticket for his daughter from an assembly segment under his Garhwal Lok Sabha parliamentary constituency, but the party leadership is not in favour of the move as it would lead to similar demands from other leaders.
Khanduri is 82 and out of the CM race but enjoys the reputation of a clean politician. “He remains the party’s most popular leader. He cannot be ignored,” a BJP leader said.
Hardwar MP Ramesh Pookhriyal Nishank has expressed before BJP chief Amit Shah his willingness to lead the party. At 57, he is the youngest among former CMs and emerged as the Brahmin face of the BJP. The party did poorly in the hills of Garhwal region last time and Nishank was accused of sabotage. “Nishank knows the art of running a government and the party. Ignoring his claim is not easy,” the BJP leader said.
But, the party is equally worried about Nanital MP Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who expressed his anguish about ‘groupism’ at the BJP’s executive committee meeting in Roorkee last October. The 74-year-old leader nurses chief ministerial ambitions and is upset with the party over selection of the state president.
Koshyari has restricted his tour to Nainital and Almora, leaving the party guessing if it will give chief minister Harish Rawat an open field in Kumaon. Koshyari, a Thakur, is BJP’s tallest leader from Kumaon region, Rawat’s home turf.
Former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna crossed over to the BJP in May this year, along with eight other Congress MLAs. He has been told that a chief ministerial position won’t be possible for him, but Bahuguna is now lobbying for tickets for his loyalist MLAs. The BJP is in a bind, fearing rebellion from leaders who contested against these MLAs last time.