Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with Uttarakhand CM-designate Pushkar Singh Dhami, in Dehradun, Monday, March 21, 2022. (PTI)
New Delhi: The BJP top brass reposed its faith in outgoing chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Monday and elected him as the legislature party leader of the ruling party. Under his leadership the BJP retained power in Uttarakhand by beating the trend of the hill state giving the seat of power to BJP and Congress alternately, even though Mr Dhami, 46, lost his seat.
While campaigning for the BJP in Uttarakhand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had "assured" the voters that for a "yuva rajya (young state)," the BJP under Mr Dhami's leadership will "continue providing speedy development" along with the Centre. The BJP has repeated its CMs in all the four states it won -- Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Manipur -- in the recent Assembly polls.
The new government in Uttarakhand will take oath on March 23. Earlier during the day, newly elected MLAs took oath in the state Assembly.
Though the decision on the Assembly seat from which Mr Dhami will have to contest the by-poll will be taken by the party leadership, more than half a dozen BJP MLAs have offered to vacate their seat for Mr Dhami, whose continuation at the top post, it was learnt, was supported by the BJP top brass, including the PM.
Speculation is rife that Mr Dhami could contest the by-poll from Didihat, won by senior BJP leader Bishan Singh Chaupal. Didihat is Mr Dhami's native place.
Though some senior leaders had tried to object to his continuation, the party top brass, sources said, made it clear that under his short tenure as the CM the party "gained much."
Many senior leaders had objected to the decision of Mr Dhami's nomination as the CM candidate for the first time as they had felt that their seniority was overlooked. The party leadership, it was learnt, had also received complaints that some senior leaders were trying to "sabotage" Mr Dhami's chances from the Khatima Assembly seat, which he lost to his Congress opponent.
Union defence minister Rajnath Singh and MoS external affairs Meenakshi Lekhi were the Central observers for the legislature party meeting.
"I congratulate him (Dhami), I am confident that under his leadership Uttarakhand will make rapid progress, he will take the state to new heights," said Mr Singh after Mr Dhami was named as the legislature party leader. BJP president J.P. Nadda also congratulated the CM designate.
The BJP had also asked its MPs from the state to be present at the venue of the meeting.
The CM-designate along with BJP leaders later met Governor Lt. Gen Gurmit Singh (Retd) to stake claim to form the government in the state.
The BJP top brass had held a meeting with the party's core group leaders of the state on Sunday where the leaders, it was learnt, also discussed the government formation. Speculation is rife in the state BJP that the Central leadership wants to accommodate "new and young faces" in Mr Dhami's new team. Among the issues that the new Uttarakhand government will have to address also include Uniform Civil Code and land law. Just days before the state went for polling, Mr Dhami had announced that if BJP comes to power, it will implement the UCC.
The committee set up by the outgoing government to study state specific law banning rampant sale of land, especially in the hilly region to outsiders, has already submitted its report. The government was forced to set up the committee after it became a major issue, initiated by the youth and later supported by the Opposition parties.