Sonia handpicks him, overlooking at least five other aspirants for top job

Vijay Bahuguna, the 65-year-old former High Court Judge-turned politician representing Tehri in the Lok Sabha, was named the Uttarakhand Chief Minister by Congress president Sonia Gandhi after parleys at her residence on Monday — bringing to an end the race by at least five other aspirants to bag the top post.

The news was welcomed with firecrackers at the Congress headquarters here.

Talking to The Hindu on the phone, Mr. Bahuguna said he was overwhelmed by the trust reposed in him by Ms. Gandhi and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and he would try his best to usher in all-round development in the hill State.

“I would be using my experience as a Judge and Vice-Chairman of the State Planning Commission during the earlier Congress regime and jurisprudence to address problems of all sections of society,” Mr. Bahuguna said.

Kept a low profile

The soft-spoken Mr. Bahuguna seems to have won the approval of Ms. Gandhi even as the other aspirants — Union Minister of State Harish Rawat, MP Satpal Maharaj, State Congress president Yashpal Arya, Leader of the Opposition Harak Singh Rawat and senior Minister Indira Hirdeyesh — indulged in haggling among themselves as also with general secretary in charge of the State Choudhary Birendra Singh and central observer Ghulam Nabi Azad, and, during at least four meetings, with Ms. Gandhi herself.

Now that the drama is over, Mr. Bahuguna will have to keep the flock in order and rein in his detractors.

Mr. Bahuguna will formally stake claim to form the government on Tuesday before Governor Margaret Alva. The date of the swearing-in will be decided by the Governor.