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Uttarakhand: Rajnath, Lekhi, Joshi to attend BJP meeting to decide next CM

Uttarakhand: Rajnath, Lekhi, Joshi to attend BJP meeting to decide next CM

The meeting which is slated to begin at 5 pm will end 11 days of suspense over who would be the next Uttarakhand CM.

Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami

BJP's central observers for Uttarakhand, Rajnath Singh and Meenakshi Lekhi, and the state’s poll affairs in charge Pralhad Joshi reached here on Monday afternoon to attend a meeting of the party's newly-elected MLAs to decide the state's next chief minister.

The meeting which is slated to begin at 5 pm will end 11 days of suspense over who would be the CM.

Soon after they arrived at Dehradun's Jollygrant Airport, the BJP's central leaders left for the city where newly elected party legislators have begun to arrive at the party office on Balbir Road to deliberate on the issue of the next chief minister. Pushkar Singh Dhami, under whose leadership the BJP had contested the February 14 assembly polls in Uttarakhand, is the frontrunner among around half a dozen names doing the rounds.

The other probables for the top post include Chaubattakhal MLA Satpal Maharaj, Shrinagar MLA Dhan Singh Rawat, Rajya Sabha MP Anil Baluni, former Union minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Union minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt. The BJP's dilemma on the choice of a chief minister for Uttarakhand began with the defeat of Dhami from Khatima, a seat he had been winning since 2012. A section of BJP leaders, however, credit Dhami for the party's big win in the state assembly polls and want him to be the chief minister again so that he gets a full five-year term to deliver on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of development in Uttarakhand.

Dhami and Pradesh BJP president Madan Kaushik had attended a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah at his residence on Sunday to discuss various issues. Former Uttarakhand chief ministers Nishank and Trivendra Singh Rawat had also attended the Sunday meeting with Shah after which Dhami had said the chief minister will be decided at the legislative party meeting in Dehradun on Monday. The party which went to the polls with Dhami as its chief ministerial candidate won 47 out of a total 70 assembly seats in the state to return to power for a second consecutive term - something which has happened for the first time in the state's electoral history. Political observers here feel the BJP does not have much scope left for experimentation in Uttarakhand where it has already experimented on two chief ministers in its last tenure.

Dhami had been brought in as a replacement for Tirath Singh Rawat towards the fag end of its last tenure in July 2021 and his contribution to the party's good showing at the hustings cannot be overlooked, political analysts said.

However, if the party goes for a new face, the necessity to strike a caste and regional balance will be a deciding factor. The party will also try to give a CM who can keep his flock together and completes the whole five-year term, they said.

However, BJP has a penchant for springing surprises on such occasions.

Both Tirath Singh Rawat and Dhami were surprise choices for the post of CM when they were given the reign of power in the state. Their names were out of the range of media speculation.