Uttarakhand BJP MLAs to meet on Friday; TS Rawat, Prakash Pant lead CM race

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DEHRADUN: BJP national secretary Trievendra Singh Rawat and veteran Prakash Pant are frontrunners in the BJP for the Uttarakhand CM race. Other names doing the rounds are those of Dhan Singh Rawat and Satpal Maharaj. The first meeting of the party’s newly-elected MLAs is likely to be held on March 17.

In 2012, both Singh and Pant had lost the elections and by-elections alter. Pant lost the Sitarganj bypoll to then chief minister Vijay Bahuguna and Trivendra Singh lost the Doiwala seat in 2014.

However, Singh has always been given importance in the party organisation and served as the BJP in-charge of Jharkhand unit. On Tuesday, Singh spent time in the BJP office on Dehradun’s Balbir Road, but he was silent on his chances to become CM.

“If the BJP central leadership chooses home minister Rajnath Singh as UP CM, Trivendra may be automatically out of the race for the post of Uttarakhand CM,” a BJP state representative told ET.

BJP can’t ignore the social equations by selecting two faces from forward castes in UP and Uttarakhand, he added. BJP’s local leaders see a chance for littleknown Dhan Singh Rawat too. “He has won the election from Srinagar seat and is considered a favourite of our central leadership in view of his dedication to the organisation.

He was engaged in the 2015 Bihar assembly elections too,” a senior BJP insider said. Those who see a chance for Satpal Maharaj highlight his association with ‘spiritual matters’ as a plus point. Maharaj had joined the BJP in 2014 after quitting the Congress. He won the assembly polls from Chaubattakha, where former BJP state unit chief Tirath Singh Rawat was denied nomination.

BJP’s Uttarakhand unit has four former chief ministers — BC Khanduri, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Vijay Bahguna.