By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 4 Jul: Pushkar Singh Dhami took oath as the new Chief Minister along with his entire Cabinet, this evening, and it appeared that everything was normal and the change of guard had been a smooth process. However, it wasn’t so in reality. The BJP leadership had a tough time throughout the day in managing the anguish and dissatisfaction of certain party leaders, all of them being senior leaders. It managed to persuade those angry to accept being Cabinet Ministers and by the time the oath ceremony approached, the party leadership had managed to pacify leaders like Satpal Maharaj, Harak Singh Rawat, Bishan Singh Chufal and Bansidhar Bhagat. Apart from them, even Dhan Singh Rawat was stated to be somewhat anguished according to the party insiders, though he was never expected to throw any public tantrums. He was, after all, the junior-most minister in the Trivendra Singh Rawat as well as Tirath Singh Rawat governments.
As the displeasure of some senior party leaders came to the fore last evening, itself, some ‘dissatisfied’ leaders had started meeting each other since morning. Apart from the names mentioned earlier, some other MLAs were also reportedly among those who attended the meetings of the dissenting leaders. Meetings were reportedly held at the houses of Chufal and some other leaders. At the same time, parallel meetings also started at the residence of BJP State President Madan Kaushik, where many of the leaders including Chufal and Bhagat also went to reportedly express their dissatisfaction. State in-charge Dushyant Gautam, Madan Kaushik, General Secretary Organisation Ajay Kumar and State General Secretary Kuldeep Kumar were also present at the meeting. Ministers Dhan Singh Rawat and Yatheeswaranand had also reached the BJP president’s residence for the ongoing meeting.
As the day progressed, it appeared for a while that Dhami might be forced to take oath as CM, alone, without any cabinet colleagues if the matters failed to settle. However, Union Home Minister Amit Shah called up the dissenting leaders like Maharaj, Harak Singh, Bishan Singh Chufal, Bansidhar Bhagat. At the same time, Nainital MP and former BJP State President Ajay Bhatt was also pressed into duty to convince and persuade the angry leaders to agree to take up ministers’ responsibilities. Also, the Chief Minister-elect Dhami also called on Satpal Maharaj and tried to assuage his feelings. Dhami had earlier also made courtesy calls on former CMs BC Khanduri, Trivendra Singh Rawat and Tirath Singh Rawat.
Sources in the party claimed that Shah was the one who managed to handle the crisis and by the time the Oath Ceremony approached everything seemed to have been settled. This was evident when the foremost among the dissatisfied leaders, Maharaj, also reached the Raj Bhavan before the ceremony. Harak Singh was the last among the ministers to reach Raj Bhavan and arrived at the ceremony even after the CM-elect Dhami.
Here, one result of the apparent displeasure of some leaders was that the party and the nominated Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami dropped any idea of any reshuffle in the cabinet and the party had to repeat all the previous faces. The matter did not end there. All the ministers of state were promoted and given the status of cabinet ministers.
After attending the swearing-in ceremony, Harak Singh, Bansidhar Bhagat and Bishan Singh Chufal refuted the displeasure charge and termed it as a rumour.
By Arun Pratap Singh