Ahead of the oath-taking ceremony of Pushkar Singh Dhami as Uttarakhand Chief Minister, sources told News18 that there would be no change in the cabinet.
The Uttarakhand BJP legislature party on Saturday unanimously elected Dhami, a two-time MLA from Khatima as its new leader paving the way for him to take over as the 11th chief minister of the state replacing Tirath Singh Rawat who resigned on Friday night citing constitutional factors.
The entire cabinet will take oath on Sunday evening at Raj Bhawan, sources said, adding that all ministers are likely to retain their cabinet berths.
The sources added that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had also conversed with senior ministers unhappy with Dhami’s election.
At least four senior MLAs – ministers in previous CM Tirath Singh Rawat’s cabinet – are sulking and the party is making all efforts to pacify them amid reports that the selection of Dhami for the top role has fuelled resentment in the state unit.
Sources in the party told News18 that Satpal Maharaj, Madan Kaushik, Subodh Uniyal, Harak Singh Rawat, Bishan Singh Chuphal and Yashpal Arya are among those who have expressed their reservations with Dhami to the party high command.
The sources added that Nainital MP Ajay Bhatt, party in-charge Dushyant Gautam are trying to placate the sulking MLAs ahead of the ceremony at 5pm.
Earlier in the day, BJP leaders insisted that there was no rift over Dhami. BJP’s Bansidhar Bhagat, when asked about the displeasure of the MLAs, said: “I read somewhere that 35 MLAs reached Delhi, please tell me who are these MLAs? These (reports) are mere rumours, our leaders stand firmly with the party.” His view was echoed by BJP MLA Dhan Singh Rawat, who said everyone in Uttarakhand was happy with the decision.
Pushkar Singh Dhami was on Saturday elected as the leader of the BJP legislature party, paving the way for him to take over as the eleventh Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. Dhami’s election was announced by central observer Narendra Singh Tomar.
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. After his resignation, Tirath had said it was certain that the BJP would win the 2022 elections.
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.
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 post.
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.
Meanwhile, the Congress party 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.