After winning the Uttarakhand Assembly polls, the BJP, which had not declared a chief ministerial candidate, is now faced with the challenge of choosing a leader acceptable to the party’s central and State leadership, as well as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
According to highly placed sources in the BJP, three names — Satpal Maharaj, Prakash Pant, and Trivendra Singh Rawat — are being considered by the party’s central leadership.
Mr. Maharaj, who won the Chaubattakhal seat, is, according to party sources, the foremost choice of the RSS and the central leadership. He had crossed over to the BJP prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and though he did not contest then, he had campaigned vigorously for the party across the country.
However, the party cadre in Uttarakhand is opposed to Mr. Maharaj’s leadership as are the 13 MLAs from the Congress who had crossed over to the BJP last year.
A former Minister and party’s Jharkhand in charge, Trivendra Singh Rawat, who won the Doiwala seat, is known to have close links with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. “The core cadre is more in favour of Trivendra ji than Maharaj ji ,” a BJP leader told The Hindu .
On Sunday, senior BJP leader Prakash Pant’s name also emerged as a possible candidate. Mr. Pant won the Pithoragarh seat. “Pant ji being called by the party for the Parliamentary Board meeting [in New Delhi] is an indication that he is being considered,” another source in the BJP said.
Since the party has four former Chief Ministers — B.C. Khanduri, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank, and Vijay Bahuguna — sources said their names are also likely to figure among the choices.
On Saturday, BJP’s Uttarakhand in charge Shyam Jaju said the final decision would be announced in a few days.