In going for Pushkar Singh Dhami as Tirath Singh Rawat’s replacement in Uttarakhand, the BJP has chosen a young Thakur face from the Kumaon region. The state’s last two chief ministers were from the Garhwal region.
News18 had reported on July 2 that Dhami could be a surprise choice for the post after Rawat had to tender his resignation. A two-time MLA from Khatima, Dhami was not even a minister in either the Trivendra Singh Rawat or the Tirath Singh Rawat government and has superseded many senior leaders to the chair. Party leaders however said Dhami’s selection balances the regional and caste representation inside the party in Uttarakhand as a Brahmin leader from Garhwal; Madan Kaushik is the party chief.
Dhami stressed that he was a “simple worker of the party, the son of a soldier and was born in the remote border region of Pithoragarh”, in his first comments to the media after his name was declared for the post of the chief minister.
Uttarakhand, a border state, is known for sending youngsters to the Army. He will take oath tomorrow at 5 pm.
The BJP has placed its bets on 45-year-old Dhami believing that he can appeal to the youth voter as he earlier served as BJP Yuva Morcha chief in the state.
In the 2017 state assembly elections that the BJP swept with 57 out of the 70 seats, the party won 23 out of the 29 seats in Kumaon. This is the region from where most senior Congress leaders in the state come from, including former CM Harish Singh Rawat, against whom BJP is pitching Dhami. Indira Hridayesh, another top Congress leader from Kumaon, had passed away last month.
Dhami is the protégé of former Uttarakhand CM Bhagat Singh Koshyari who is also from Bageshwar in Kumaon and both of them have close links with the RSS. Koshyari is presently serving as the Maharashtra Governor.
The BJP faces a tough task in Uttarakhand now with its third chief minister in the last four years to lead the party into the elections. Dhami said he sees the election as an opportunity for the party to return to power again.