By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 11 Aug: Every time, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami goes to Delhi to meet the central leaders in the Union Government or the national level office bearers in the BJP, speculation begins about possible cabinet expansion and the Lal Batti appointments. Today, both Dhami and newly appointed BJP State President, Mahendra Bhatt, left for Delhi where they are scheduled to meet the central party functionaries and union ministers and discuss various issues related to Uttarakhand.
It has also been more than 10 days since former Badrinath MLA Mahendra Bhatt had been appointed as BJP State President replacing Madan Kaushik who had a rather short tenure as BJP President and was always believed to be a stop gap arrangement. While Kaushik had replaced Bansidhar Bhagat before the elections, he himself has now been replaced with Bhatt. Bhatt is yet to announce his own team. Sources claimed that while the issue of Cabinet Expansion might not even be discussed on a serious note during the meetings of Dhami and Bhatt with the BJP leadership despite strong speculations in this regard, names for the new BJP team in Uttarakhand would certainly be discussed. The names being considered would be decided in view of the coming Lok Sabha elections. On the other hand, BJP leadership is also aware of the fact that some BJP leaders needed to be pacified with Lal Batti assignments while some others would have to be adjusted in the party. Sources claimed that the chief minister and the party were seriously considering to make first phase Lal Batti appointments soon enough. These appointments may happen around the Independence time. There is pressure on the party in this regard and the party is not inclined to repeat the mistakes it committed during the tenure of Trivendra Singh Rawat as the CM. Then the party had taken a long long time to make Lal Batti appointments leading to resentment and also dissatisfaction within the party which led to Rawat becoming quite unpopular within the party cadres, forcing the BJP to replace him after four years in power.
Sources claimed that the Dhami and Bhatt had meetings lined up with BJP President JP Nadda, Amit Shah and BJP General Secretary Arun Singh besides some formal meetings. It may be recalled that Dhami had returned from Delhi just on Monday and today he is again back in Delhi leading to the speculation that cabinet expansion, Lal Batti appointments and constitution of new BJP team were in the offing.