Sujay Mehdudia

Rajnath Singh holds consultations with senior leaders

  • BJP legislators to meet in Dehra Dun on Thursday
  • Vajpayee, Advani have backed Khanduri

    NEW DELHI: The former Union Minister B.C. Khanduri, who spearheaded the BJP's election campaign in Uttarakhand, on Wednesday emerged the frontrunner for Chief Minister after party president Rajnath Singh held consultations with senior leaders including general secretary in charge Ravi Shankar Prasad.

    The election of Mr. Khanduri, at Thursday's meeting of the new BJP legislators in Dehra Dun, seems to be a formality.

    Earlier in the afternoon, Mr. Rajnath Singh had a prolonged closed-door meeting with Mr. Khanduri and the former Chief Minister Bhagat Singh Koshiary.

    Mr. Rajnath Singh also held consultations with the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani. Both leaders backed Mr. Khanduri's candidature considering his successful stint as Union Minister and the party's good performance in the Garhwal region of the hill State, it is learnt.

    Although Mr. Koshiary also threw his hat into the ring,he was told not to go public with his views on the issue. The leadership was annoyed at Mr. Koshiary openly talking about his being a probable candidate for the top post, soon after it became clear that the BJP was in a position to form the government.

    Senior leaders said that as the party fought the elections with regional discrimination as one of the main planks, it would be in the fitness of things that Mr. Khanduri, who belonged to hills, be asked to head the Government.

    Pat for Prasad

    Later, Mr. Rajnath Singh also held consultations with the party observers Gopinath Munde and O.P. Mathur along with Mr. Prasad. He was understood to have conveyed to them the views of the party and its leadership.

    He put on record the good work done by Mr. Prasad enabling the BJP to emerge as the single largest party and putting it in a position to form the government.

    ``We are already in touch with a number of Independents as well as other small groups. A by-election is also due on March 25, so majority is not a problem," Mr. Prasad said.