Pushkar Singh Dhami is now set to become the 11th Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, the third change of guard in the position within a short period of four months.
Dhami will be taking oath as the new CM at 6 pm on Sunday at the Raj Bhawan.
Tirath Singh Rawat gave his resignation to governor Baby Rani Maurya late on Friday night, amid internal political unrest and dwindling hopes of him being elected to the state legislature by September 10.
In less than a year, Uttarakhand will hold its Assembly elections.
The two-time MLA from the Kumaon region (Khatima constituency), announced his name for the office in a meeting held at the BJP headquarters.
The BJP legislature party meeting was attended by the party’s central observer Narendra Singh Tomar as well, who arrived in Dehradun in the afternoon, and its state in-charge Dushyant Kumar Gautam.
After the meeting, Tomar said former CMs Trivendra Rawat and Tirath Singh Rawat had accepted the mandate of electing Pushkar Singh Dhami as the next CM of Uttarakhand.
The names of sitting MLAs and ministers like Satpal Maharaj, Banshidar Bhagat, Harak Singh Rawat, and Dhan Singh Rawat had been doing the rounds for the post of the new CM. It was also speculated that leaders from the Kumaon region like Bishan Chaupal and Pushkar Singh Dhami could be a surprise choice, and the latter became the eventual choice for the party.
After his selection, Dhami told the media on Saturday: “My party has appointed a common worker, son of an ex-serviceman, who was born in Pithoragarh to serve the state. We’ll work together for the people’s welfare. We accept the challenge of serving people with the help of others, in a short period."
He also thanked his party workers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for being given the role, while adding that he would continue the “good work carried out by the party" ahead.
Celebrations were also witnessed at Dhami’s residence in Khaltima. His mother Vishna Devi, getting emotional, told the media that had Dhami’s father been alive he would have been very happy. His wife, Geeta Dhami said Pushkar Dhami performs his all responsibilities very well.
Meanwhile, after his resignation, Tirath Singh Rawat said it was certain that the BJP would win the 2022 elections.
Before his resignation on Friday night, the leader had held a press conference, wherein he had listed all the achievements carried out by the government under his term. He had refused to answer any questions about his resignation and the subsequent change of guard.
In March this year, following dissent against former CM Trivendra Singh Rawat, Tirath Singh Rawat, an MP at the time, was sworn in as Chief Minister.
Rawat, on the other hand, had to secure an assembly seat by September 10 to keep his job.
However, holding a by-poll amid the devastating second wave of the Covid pandemic became unlikely, especially given that the Assembly elections are less than a year away.
Rawat himself contracted Covid on March 22, just 12 days after he took the oath, and the timing of the same proved to be politically disastrous for him. His report came positive just a day ahead of the Election Commission announcing on March 23 a by-poll in the Salt assembly constituency of Uttarakhand. This impending by-poll is what the BJP had in mind while choosing Rawat, an MP, as CM on March 10.
However, Rawat had to go into self-isolation for 14 days till the first week of April after contracting Covid while the last date of filing nominations for the Salt by-poll seat was March 30. On Saturday, Rawat described that as the reason why he could not contest that by-poll. He had tested negative on April 4, ahead of the by-poll which was conducted on April 17 and was ultimately won by the BJP comfortably.
Pushkar Singh Dhami, a ‘Humble Worker’
Born on September 16, 1975, in Kanalichinna of Pithoragarh district, Dhami’s early education took place in the village. He completed his higher education at Lakhlau University.
Dhami is a Post Graduate in Management. He completed his LLB from Lucknow University in 2002.
His father was a former soldier. Apart from Dhami, there are three sisters in the family.
The BJP legislator has twice been the president of the BJP youth wing in the hill state as he served as the state chief of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha from 2002 to 2006.
Dhami is considered close to Bhagat Singh Koshyari, a former chief minister and currently the Governor of Maharashtra and Goa. The 45-year-old leader’s image has been that of an undisputed leader.
However, it is not going to be easy for Dhami to carry out the role of CM in Uttarakhand; having to adjust with the senior MLAs as well as the bureaucracy. His lack of experience in heading a government may also prove to be a roadblock.
Congress Hits Out at BJP
The rotating CMs phenomenon has however become embarrassing for the party, given it will have had three CM’s in the last year of elections; giving out a message that all is not well within the BJP in Uttarakhand.
Meanwhile, Congress has hit out at the BJP leadership, saying instead of ushering in development, it has thrown Uttarakhand into political instability and betrayed its people by repeatedly changing chief ministers.
“Starting with Nityananad Swami, the BJP will have eight chief ministers in the state," senior Congress leader Harish Rawat said.
However, wished poured in from the BJP for Dhami after his election. Uttar Pradesh Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya congratulated Dhami, and said he would pray for the leader’s success.
“We are happy with this decision. We have got a young leader. We’ll win going to win 2022 Assembly elections with a better margin," BJP MP Ajay Bhatt told ANI after Dhami’s appointment as the state BJP legislature party leader.