Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, who lost his assembly election, Friday submitted his resignation along with his cabinet even as the uncertainty over the chief ministerial post continued on Friday despite the party’s success in resisting the anti-incumbency trend to win majority in the state assembly.
BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, who were sent to Dehradun by the central leadership before the counting of votes, returned to the national capital on Friday evening. Both the leaders are expected to brief the central leadership, including BJP national president J P Nadda, Home Minister Amit Shah and party General Secretary (Organisation) B L Santosh, about the feedback they received from the state unit. Sources said both the leaders held discussions and meetings with various leaders, including elected legislators and ministers in the outgoing government. Joshi’s office, however, said there has been no formal discussions.
The central leadership, meanwhile, has appointed Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan as observers when the newly elected legislators meet. Both Goyal and Pradhan are likely to reach Dehradun during the weekend.
The BJP has won 47 seats in the 70-member Assembly, breaking the usual trend of alternative parties winning the state election in Uttarakhand, leaving 19 seats to the Congress party. BSP and independents also won two seats each.
Dhami was nominated as chief minister in July last to lead the party into elections as the BJP-led government had faced criticism for its functioning under the two chief ministers who preceded him – Trivendra Singh Rawat and Tirath Singh Rawat. Although the party managed to buck the anti-incumbency factor, Dhami lost his election from Khatima constituency.
While names like Dhan Singh Rawat, Satpal Maharaj and Bansidhar Bhagat have been taking rounds, a section in the party close to Dhami appears to be still optimistic about a green signal from the central leadership for him to continue in the top post. Their argument is that it was Dhami, who invoked hope for a change in the style of functioning, to have helped the party – which apparently had assessed before July that it would win less than 20 seats – to win the elections. “He was handpicked by the Prime Minister himself, he has delivered the state, so he remains in contention,” said a source close to him. Sources close to him attributed the “internal party issues” to the defeat of Dhami in his constituency.
However, other party leaders pointed out that “appointing a defeated candidate who failed to get the mandate would send the wrong message”.
According to a leader familiar with the developments “discussions are still on” on the new chief minister. “It is not even decided whether it would be one from the newly elected legislators. The central leadership will take a decision,” he said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to take a final call on the issue, sources added.
“Because it’s an election victory absolutely attributed to Prime Minister Modi’s image. Had it been entirely on the state unit, the BJP would not even have crossed the magic numbers. People voted for Modi,” said a party leader from the state.
A section of the BJP argued that it was Modi’s popularity that helped a number of party candidates who were fighting a tough battle to pull the election. “There were some candidates who felt that they were losing the election till the Prime Minister’s campaign hit the ground. All what the state party could highlight as achievements were the central schemes and their implementation,” said a party leader.
But the party leaders said the new CM is expected from Garhwal region where the BJP’s performance was extremely good. Both Rawat and Maharaj are from Garhwal region.