The BJP on Monday opted to continue with incumbent Chief Ministers Pushkar Singh Dhami and Pramod Sawant for the new governments in Uttarakhand and Goa, a day after N. Biren Singh was repeated in Manipur in a similar manner. Legislature party meetings of the party in Uttarakhand and Goa elected Mr. Dhami and Mr. Sawant as leaders, maintaining status quo in these States.
In the case of Uttarakhand, the decision to retain Mr. Dhami in the Chief Minister's chair came despite the fact that while the BJP won a majority in the recent Assembly polls, he had lost his own seat of Khatima. The decision is a reverse of what had happened in Himachal Pradesh in 2017 when Prem Kumar Dhumal had to sit out of government after losing his own seat while the party won, and Jairam Thakur was elected Chief Minister from among the elected MLAs. Since the Uttarakhand Assembly does not have an Upper House or Legislative Council, Mr. Dhami will now have to be elected to the Assembly via a bypoll within six months.
11 days of suspense
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh formally announced Mr. Dhami's name as the choice of party MLAs, ending 11 days of suspense over the matter. "I greet Mr. Pushkar Singh Dhami for being elected the leader of the BJP legislature party. I have full confidence that under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the leadership of Mr. Dhami, Uttarakhand will see multifaceted development," said Mr. Singh after the meeting of the legislature party for which he, along with Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi were appointed central observers on behalf of the party.
Party sources told The Hindu that maintaining the status quo in both Goa and Uttarakhand was to ensure stability in internal equations in the party and external situations looking at the 2024 general election. Both Mr. Dhami and Mr. Sawant had steadied the boughs for the party, the former after two successive changes in Chief Ministers in Uttarakhand - from Trivendra Singh Rawat to Tirath Singh Rawat- in an election year, and Mr. Sawant after the passing away of the BJP's most powerful leader in Goa, Manohar Parrikar.
Mr. Dhami's election as legislative party leader is particularly significant with regard to decisions to be made in Uttar Pradesh and government formation there, as Keshav Prasad Maurya, former Deputy Chief Minister, who is still an MLC, lost his Assembly poll from Sirathu. While Mr Maurya does not share warm vibes with Chief Minister-designate Yogi Adityanath, Mr. Dhami's continuation may mean that Mr. Maurya may also be accommodated in the new U.P. government.
In Goa, Mr. Sawant had won his Assembly seat but was facing internal leadership challenges from Vishwajeet Rane, who had created quite a buzz meeting Governor Sreedharan Pillai in the 11 days leading up to the announcement of the Chief Minister's name.
Rane proposes Sawant’s name
Central observers from Delhi, Union Ministers Narendra Tomar and L. Murugan, supervised the legislature party meet in Panaji, with Mr. Rane moving the resolution proposing Mr. Sawant's name.
"Vishwajit Rane proposed the name of Pramod Sawant as the leader of the legislative party. Everyone unanimously elected Sawant as the leader. He will be leader for the next five years," said Mr. Tomar coming out of the meeting.
According to sources who spoke to The Hindu, Cabinet formation in in Goa could be in two tranches, with Mr. Sawant, Mr. Rane and Mauvin Goudinho from the BJP, along with Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) leader Sudhin Dhavalikar and independents Alexio Reginaldo Lorenco to be sworn-in, in the first round. The sources also said that four MLAs from North Goa and a corresponding number from South Goa would be part of the new government later.
The BJP won 47 out of 70 seats in Uttarakhand, whereas in Goa, it won 20 out 40 seats and have the support of two independents and the two MGP MLAs.