Many veteran BJP leaders upset over being side-lined for Uttarakhand CM post
With the elevation of two-time party MLA Pushkar Singh Dhami to CM designate, BJP had hoped to end the political crisis in Uttarakhand on Saturday
With the elevation of two-time party MLA Pushkar Singh Dhami to CM designate, BJP had hoped to end the political crisis in Uttarakhand on Saturday. However, it didn’t seem to be the case as hours before his swearing-in on Sunday evening, reports of many party senior leaders expressing their displeasure over the move started making rounds in the city, HT has learnt.
Among those who were reportedly not happy with the party leadership’s decision of choosing Dhami as the new CM were state tourism minister Satpal Maharaj and state forest and environment minister Harak Singh Rawat.
Both had reached the residence of state higher education minister Dhan Singh Rawat in Dehradun along with another senior party leader and minister in ex-CM Tirath Singh Rawat’s cabinet, Bishan Singh Chufal. Among the four mentioned leaders, Dhan Singh and Maharaj were among the frontrunners for the CM post.
A party MLA privy to the development, on condition of anonymity, said, “The upset leaders had reached Dhan Singh’s residence on Sunday noon. Among them, Harak Singh and Maharaj who are both senior leaders in the party after defecting from Congress, were the most upset.”
“Dhan Singh and Chufal were, however, pacifying them that they should put their part before the state leadership instead of being upset. Later, Dhan Singh and Chufal reached the residence of party state president Madan Kaushik where a high-level meeting was being held in presence of party-state in-charge Dushyant Kumar Gautam, party state general secretaries Ajay Kumar and Kuldeep Kumar to decide on how to pacify the upset leaders,” said the leader.
However, party senior leader Bansidhar Bhagat, who has also been former party state president and parliamentary affairs minister in ex-CM Tirath Singh Rawat’s cabinet, refuted the reports on discontent among party leaders.
“All these are rumours. All the leaders are supporting the decision of party leadership as they are the party’s soldiers. Nobody is upset with Dhami being elected to be the next CM. We all are with him to continue the development works and win the next assembly elections to be held in 2022 with a thumping majority like in 2017,” said Bhagat.
On the meeting held at party state president Kaushik’s residence, he said, “We are a political party, hence such meetings are nothing unusual. A new development has taken place in the state leadership, hence there are many issues to be discussed on how to take the party forward. The meeting is regarding that only.”
Party leader Maharaj too denied reports of him being upset with the leadership change.
Speaking to the reporters at his residence in Dehradun, he said, “I am not at all upset and fully support the leadership’s decision. The new CM designate is a young leader and we will fully support him to bring new development to the stage under his leadership.”
Opposition Congress and political experts, however, said that the discontent was “bound to come up in BJP after Dhami’s elevation.”
Congress state president Pritam Singh, accused the BJP of hurting the public mandate in the 2017 elections. “The public handed it a thumping majority but it had hurt the mandate by working only to bring political instability. After forming the government, they only made tall promises but delivered on none.”
“Amid this political instability, they changed two CMs in a matter of four months and appointed a third one who is also not expected to do much for the state considering the small period of tenure before next elections. Now, the factionalism in BJP has also come out in the open which is only rubbing salt on the wounds of the public which gave them the majority in 2017,” said Singh.
Political analyst and professor of political science in Garhwal Central University, MM Semwal termed the expression of discontent by senior BJP leaders as inevitable.
“The biggest challenge before Dhami would be to work in coordination with the senior leaders of BJP who were overlooked for the CM position,” said Semwal.
“By electing Dhami, BJP leadership did a surgical strike on its own senior state leaders which include the likes of Bansidhar Bhagat, Harak Singh Rawat, Satpal Maharaj, Dhan Singh Rawat, Harak Singh Rawat and Yashpal Arya. Dhami would have a tough time working in coordination with them ahead of next year’s assembly elections,” he said.
Earlier on Sunday, Dhami met ex-CMs Tirath Singh Rawat, Trivendra Singh Rawat and Maj Gen BC Khanduri (retd) at their residences in an effort to garner support.
Later in the day, amid reports of some leaders being unhappy with his election as the new CM, he also went to meet Satpal Maharaj at his residence which was seen as an attempt to pacify him ahead of his swearing-in on Sunday evening at 5 pm.
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