New Delhi: A week after its historic win in Uttarakhand, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) designated Trivendra Singh Rawat as the next chief minister of the hill state.
The legislature party meeting of the BJP unanimously elected Rawat as its leader on Friday following which he met governor K.K. Paul and claimed the support of 57 party legislators.
The BJP received a historic mandate in Uttarakhand, winning 57 of the 70 seats with a vote share of 46.5%.
Rawat, 56, is a former full-time member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), ideological parent of the BJP. He was also a minister in the BJP-led government that ruled the state from 2007 to 2012. Senior party leaders say Rawat is a non-controversial politician who has experience of working both in the government and the party organization.
Rawat has been closely associated with the party organization in the past. He has been a general secretary of the BJP’s Uttarakhand unit, in charge of party affairs in Jharkhand and also campaigned for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in both Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh during the 2014 general elections.
Rawat is also known to be close to Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Both Modi and Shah are expected to attend his swearing-in ceremony in Dehradun on Saturday. Elected from the Doiwala assembly constituency, Rawat defeated his nearest Congress rival by more than 24,000 votes. Speaking to reporters in Dehradun at the end of the legislature party meeting, Rawat said his government would work to uplift the poor.
“I am thankful to everyone for choosing me unanimously as the leader of the legislature party. I want to tell everyone that the BJP government is going to be transparent and honest. We will give a corruption-free government to Uttarakhand. On the lines of the focus of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the upliftment of the poor will always be on the top of our agenda,” Rawat said.
The BJP had contested the assembly polls without naming a chief ministerial candidate in advance. The party has four former chief ministers in Uttarakhand and the party had taken a decision to elect a new face in the state if elected to power.
“After a landslide victory in Uttarakhand, the biggest challenge for the top leaders in BJP was to create a state leadership which has an unblemished record and in that focus Rawat fits the bill. He is from a strong RSS background, which had played a key role in the election, and has been in an administrative role before,” said Madhurendra Kumar, professor and head of the political science department at the Nainital campus of Kumaun University.
“Rawat’s choice is also significant because like other parties, in BJP too there is a problem of plenty. Rawat has the backing of RSS and has a relatively low profile, making him a consensus choice amongst MLAs (members of the legislative assembly), at least as of now,” Kumar added.