Replacing Rawat: 3 frontrunners, parliamentarians in race for U'khand's top post
- State higher education minister and close aide of Rawat, Dhan Singh Rawat, is leading the race as the main frontrunner.
With Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat's resignation on Tuesday, the speculations on the new CM face have also started. State higher education minister and close aide of Rawat, Dhan Singh Rawat, is leading the race as the main frontrunner. He hails from Garhwal
Two other contenders include Rajya Sabha member Anil Baluni and Lok Sabha member from Nainital-US Nagar, Ajay Bhatt.
Rawat is leading the race due to various factors including his Thakur caste factor to balance the caste equation in the state. BJP state president Bansidhar Bhagat, who belongs to the Kumaon region, is also believed to be one of the options.
"Dhan Singh is also a close aide of Trivendra Singh Rawat and has risen to the rank of minister in the current government from being a party worker. Also, his name was suggested by Trivendra during his meeting with the national leaders," said a senior party leader.
He added, "Being a close aide of Trivendra Singh Rawat, Dhan Singh is also considered a crowd puller for the party events in the state. Also, he has not been in any controversy. The only factor that can go against him is the fact that he is junior among all ministers."
Dhan Singh Rawat represents Srinagar Garhwal legislative seat. He was born in Pauri Garhwal and educated at the local village school and later went to Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University. From his college days, he was associated with the RSS and later rose in the state party ranks, becoming state secretary of Uttarakhand BJP. He couldn’t win in the assembly elections in 2012 but won from Srinagar Garhwal in 2017 and became a state minister (independent charge) with the portfolios of higher education, cooperatives, dairy development and protocols. Rawat had also held a 59-day yatra for the statehood of Uttarakhand
On the two other names, the leader said, "Baluni and Bhatt are also in the race but to accommodate any of them, the party would have to recalculate the caste calculations in the party."
"The party state president is already a Brahmin and if either of them is named as new CM, then both the top posts would be held by a Brahmin which would be problematic in the organisation. The CM has to be a Thakur. Else in a new equation, Dhan Singh could be made the new party state president and either of two aforementioned could be then named the new CM," he said.
Among the two, Bhatt has been the party state president before becoming an MP in the 2019 general election. He has the experience of running the party.
Baluni, on the other hand, is at the third spot due to his health factor as he has returned to Uttarakhand after undergoing treatment for months in Mumbai for an ailment.
Apart from the three, other names include Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, both former CMs of the state.
Amid the buzz over the leadership change in Uttarakhand since the last few days, Nishank's aides had been making an environment in the state that he would be the next CM. But if party insiders are to be believed, it is unlikely that he would leave a significant Central portfolio for the CM position. The state is heading closer to the assembly polls which are due next year.
The new CM face would be decided after the legislative party meeting at the BJP state headquarters on Wednesday morning at 10 am in Dehradun in the presence of party central observers including former Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh and state unit in-charge Dushyant Kumar Gautam.