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Dhami takes oath as Uttarakhand CM; new Cabinet a mix of experience and youth

Pushkar Singh Dhami took oath as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand on March 23, 2022. Photo: Twitter/@BJP4India

Pushkar Singh Dhami took oath as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand on March 23, 2022. Photo: Twitter/@BJP4India

Pushkar Singh Dhami on Wednesday took oath as the Uttarakhand Chief Minister, beginning his second term, at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several top BJP leaders here. Eight Ministers also took oath on the occasion. Three berths still remain vacant.

In the new Cabinet, the BJP has given representation to all five Lok Sabha seats of the State. The party tried to maintain a balance between the Kumaon and Garhwal regions. The new Cabinet includes experienced leaders, women, youth and Dalit faces.

The Cabinet has a combination of experienced Ministers like Ganesh Joshi, Satpal Maharaj, Subodh Uniyal, Dhan Singh Rawat, woman face Rekha Arya, young face Saurabh Bahuguna and Dalit face Chandan Ram Das. The outgoing Assembly Speaker and Rishikesh MLA, Prem Chandra Agarwal, has been inducted into the Cabinet.

BJP’s prominent faces Banshidhar Bhagat, Arvind Pandey and Bishan Singh Chufal — who were part of the previous Cabinet — did not figure in the list this time.

Representation to Army

In the new Cabinet, Mr. Joshi is a four-time MLA from Mussoorie. Having a background of the Army, Mr. Joshi has been given the responsibility of Sainik Kalyan Vibhag in the previous Cabinet almost a year ago. With Uttarakhand having a larger population of Army personnel, Mr. Joshi’s inclusion in the Cabinet gives a message that people from the Army also have a representation in the government.

Former Union Minister Satpal Maharaj, who was elected to the Assembly for the second consecutive term from Chaubattakhal in Pauri district, has also got a place in the new Cabinet. He had served two terms of Lok Sabha as a member from Pauri. He joined the BJP in 2014 after leaving the Congress. Also recognised as a spiritual guru, he has a stronghold in Uttarakhand politics.

Agriculture Minister in the previous BJP government, Mr. Subodh Uniyal is the MLA from Narendra Nagar. In 2002 and 2012, he represented the Congress in the Assembly from Narendra Nagar. A close aide of former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, Mr. Uniyal had rebelled against the Harish Rawat government in 2016 and joined the BJP. Since then, he holds not only an important place in the BJP but also the ministerial post.

Srinagar (Garhwal) MLA Dhan Singh Rawat, who is known as a man of organisation, is again inducted into the Cabinet. In the Assembly polls, he had defeated the State Congress president Ganesh Godiyal.

Ms. Rekha Arya, MLA from Someshwar, was again included in the Cabinet. She was the only woman in the previous government.

Dalit face

A new face in the Cabinet, Mr. Chandan Ram Das is a four-time MLA from Bageshwar in Kumaon and a Dalit face too. In the last government, the BJP had made Yashpal Arya, a Dalit leader, Minister. He left the BJP and joined the Congress.

While the bridle of the BJP government is in the hands of young Mr. Dhami, another young face, Mr. Saurabh Bahuguna, a second time MLA from Sitarganj and younger son of former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, has been accommodated in the Cabinet.

A four-time MLA from Rishikesh since 2007, Mr. Agarwal is also part of the Dhami Cabinet.

In the new Cabinet, three Thakurs — Mr. Dhami, Mr. Dhan Singh Rawat, Satpal Maharaj; three Brahmin faces — Mr. Ganesh Joshi, Mr. Subodh Uniyal, Mr. Saurabh Bahuguna and two SCs — Ms. Rekha Arya and Mr. Chandan Ram Das — have been accommodated.

Divided on the lines of Thakur-Brahmin, Kumaon-Garhwal and hill-plains, the Uttarakhand Cabinet was expected to give representation from each district.

A tough task

There can be only 11 Cabinet Ministers (apart from the Chief Minister). So, it is apparently a difficult task for the BJP to give representation for all 13 districts in the Cabinet. It has been said that some of the hill districts like Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Champawat and Bageshwar always got lesser representation and districts situated in the plain area like Pauri, Dehradun, U.S. Nagar and Haridwar always had a lion’s share in representation. But, this time Bageshwar has representation in the form of Mr. Chandan Ram Das.

Garhwal and Kumaon are the two divisions of Uttarakhand, so balancing both the regions was also important. So, the new Cabinet has five faces from Garhwal and four faces from Kumaon, including Mr. Dhami who comes from Khatima. Major representation is still from plain districts.

In view of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, each Lok Sabha constituency has been given representation in the Cabinet. Uttarakhand has five Lok Sabha seats and the new Cabinet has representation from each Lok Sabha seat. Satpal Maharaj and Mr. Rawat come from Pauri Garhwal; Mr. Joshi and Mr. Uniyal from Tehri Garhwal; Mr. Agarwal from Haridwar, Mr. Bahuguna and Mr. Dhami from U.S Nagar-Nainital seat, Ms. Rekha Arya and Mr. Das from Pithoragarh-Almora seat.


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Printable version | Jun 9, 2022 8:45:17 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/pushkar-singh-dhami-sworn-in-as-chief-minister-of-uttarakhand/article65251972.ece