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Koshiyari, RSS Man Who Patiently Waited for Shot at Power in U'khand, Will Now Call Shots in Maharashtra

With the deadline for staking claim to power in Maharashtra ending at midnight Friday, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari will play a crucial role in what happens next.

Sumit Pande | News18.com

Updated:November 8, 2019, 5:40 PM IST
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Koshiyari, RSS Man Who Patiently Waited for Shot at Power in U'khand, Will Now Call Shots in Maharashtra
File image of Bhagat Singh Koshiyari.

A wiry frame clad in a crisp dhoti-kurta, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari looked unperturbed by the developments next door. A meeting of the newly elected legislators of BJP in Uttarakhand had been called at Pacific Hotel in downtown Dehradun in the winters of 2007 to elect the chief minister of the hill state.

In the house of 70 MLAs, the BJP had won 34 seats. Some independents had offered support. A team of leaders led by current union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad were sent in by the central leadership to install the party’s government in the state.

In those days, central leadership in the BJP meant Lal Krishna Advani.

So MLAs were called in one by one to ascertain their views. One by one, they walked in to confide in the leadership. All this while Koshiyari sat in a room next door, slowly sipping tea and a little wary of the outcome.

It is said that nearly three-quarters of the BJP MLAs stood in support of Koshiyari. There was some support for BC Khanduri, a former minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. A few others backed Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank - the current HRD minister.

The deliberations went on for the entire day. Amidst protests and celebrations, the BJP finally announced BC Khanduri’s name as the next chief minister.

Koshiyari, with a very straight face, accompanied Khanduri to Raj Bhawan and proposed his name as CM. The central leadership had taken the decision and he was merely implementing party orders. For someone who was initiated into politics by the RSS, that was how Koshiyari had conducted his politics. Any other leader under those circumstances would have rebelled.

But not Koshiyari. An RSS pracharak, he would tread the hills of Kumaon to spread his party’s message. This at a time when Congress dominated the political territory and resources for political opponents were meagre. When Harish Rawat was a stalwart and defeated Murli Manohar Joshi by lakhs of votes from Almora.

Koshiari in his vintage black inverted boat-shaped cap worked at the grass roots for the Jan Sangh and the RSS. He was first sent to the legislative council of the undivided Uttar Pradesh in mid-nineties. He waited for his turn patiently.

The first opportunity came in 2000 when Uttarakhand was carved out of UP. The party made him the chief minister but the stint lasted just a few months till Congress under ND Tiwari won the elections and formed the government in 2002.

But in the next twelve years he was pipped in the last mile whenever there arose an opportunity for a government formation. The BJP high command, in fact, chose to keep Koshiyari away from the state - he was instead nominated to the Rajya Sabha once and also went on to win 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Nainital.

All the top BJP leaders in Uttakrakhad have been groomed by Koshiari, including CM Trivendra Singh Rawat and ministers like Dhan Singh Rawat.

In 2019, Bhagat da as he is called in Kumaun Hills, chose not to contest LS polls. Earlier this year, he was appointed as the Governor of Maharashtra. With people delivering a fractured mandate in Maharashtra this year, Koshiari seems to be entering another eventful phase in his career.

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