It may have been a clean sweep for the BJP in Uttarakhand, with the party winning 47 of 70 seats, but Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami’s loss from his seat has now changed the key question: Who will helm the government in the hill state?
Dhami on Friday resigned as chief minister and said he had been asked to continue till the formation of a new government.
Hectic deliberations have started in Uttarakhand, with newly elected MLAs reaching Dehradun where senior leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya and Prahlad Joshi are already camping.
Union ministers Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan have been tasked with finalising the CM face in Uttarakhand by the central BJP leadership and they too will soon reach Dehradun.
Amid buzz of the new CM face, Vijayvargiya indicated that Dhami might no longer be in the race. Asked about Dhami, Vijayvargiya said: “We have internal democracy. MLAs will choose their leader. No one can comment on who will be the chief minister. Dhami is a national leader now.”
However, Tejinder Bagga, who was also looking after elections in the state, tweeted “Dhami once again”, fueling speculation of BJP going with Dhami’s face once again.
Sources say Satpal Maharaj and Dhan Singh Rawat are already in the race for the CM’s post.
Dhami had sworn in as the 10th chief minister of Uttarakhand just eight months ago on July 3, 2021, after Tirath Singh Rawat resigned due to issues regarding his legitimacy to hold the post. Dhami went on to become the youngest chief minister of the state who held the post at the age of 45.
Dhami is also often regarded as the protégé of Maharashtra Governor and former Uttarakhand chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshyari, whom he served as an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) and an adviser.
Experts believed that Dhami, a relatively inexperienced leader, was made the CM as in the 2022 assembly polls, the BJP had decided to focus more on the Kumaon region where the Opposition Congress has been dominant. In the 2017 polls the BJP had won 34 seats in the Garhwal region, which was just two short of the majority mark in the state.
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