By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
Dehradun, 25 Dec: Intense lobbying is on by the BJP leaders aspiring to become the next BJP State President in Uttarakhand. As per the original election schedule, the new BJP Chief was expected to be declared by 30 December, but due to the special circumstances prevailing in the country related to CAA protests, BJP’s Central leadership seemed preoccupied and now the finalisation of the new BJP State Chief is likely to be done only by 15 January.
Those aspiring to be the next BJP Chief in the state include the outgoing BJP State Chief and MP Ajay Bhatt, Minister of State Dhan Singh Rawat, Pushkar Dhami, Balraj Passi, Bansidhar Bhagat, Kailash Pant and Naveen Dumka. Apart from these, some other senior leaders like Bishan Singh Chufal are also making low key efforts to project themselves. Party insiders claim that, in case Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat supports the claim of the outgoing BJP Chief Ajay Bhatt, then there would be a strong possibility of the Party High Command giving the go ahead without any hesitation. However, they also revealed that the CM was reportedly not in favour of Bhatt’s continuation as state BJP Chief. The vibes between the two leaders of late have been rather cold, claimed some leaders close to the CM.
According to them, the CM favoured a relatively low key politician from Kumaon to replace Bhatt.
Some sources also assert that Rawat prefers someone like Naveen Chandra Dumka, the Lalkuan MLA. These sources also stated that in case the party’s central leadership preferred a Kumaoni Brahmin face as the next BJP State Chief, Kailash Pant could also make it since he is also considered to be close to the CM.
On the other hand, sources close to Ajay Bhatt pointed out his track record and reminded that it was under the leadership of Ajay Bhatt that the party had won all the five Lok Sabha seats in 2014, a brute majority in the state assembly elections in 2017 at a time when no one was projected as the CM candidate by the party. The party also won all the five Lok Sabha seats in 2019 including his own seat, Nainital, from where he contested for the first time ever and defeated Congress stalwart Harish Rawat with a huge margin. In addition, the party had performed well in almost all the elections including Urban Local Bodies and the Panchayat elections. They also claimed that Bhatt was considered close to many Central leaders, a relationship that he managed to cultivate being the state BJP Chief and then an MP over the past few months.
The sources also state that leader in charge of the party affairs in the state, Shyam Jaju, too supported Bhatt’s retention. According to highly placed sources in the party, Dhan Singh is also actively lobbying for the post and having close relations with many important Sangh leaders was aiming to be the next state party chief. However, his candidature is reportedly strongly opposed by the CM. The fact that, like the CM, he too is a Garhwali Rajput would mean the regional balance is likely to be adversely affected if he is chosen.
Some insiders claimed that had the BJP not lost the Jharkhand polls, it would have found it easy to just pick up anyone. However, the party would like to tread carefully in case of Uttarakhand particularly in the wake of the fact that the party has lost 5 states in the course of the past one year, most of them due to internal factors, dissidence and poor choice of candidates. Hence, the party would not like to leave everything to the CM, giving him a completely free hand. In Jharkhand, the party had given free hand to its outgoing CM Raghubar Das, who could not even manage to win his own seat. Sources claimed that although Uttarakhand is a small state, it has always been considered significant in the BJP’s scheme of things.