45-year-old Pushkar Singh Dhami, an MLA from the Khatima assembly constituency in the hill state’s Udham Singh Nagar district, is the new Chief Minister of Uttarakhand.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced on Saturday that Dhami would succeed Tirath Singh Rawat, who stepped down from the post on Friday.
At 45, Dhami will be the youngest chief minister of the state and replaces Tirath Singh Rawat, who resigned on Friday night within four months of taking charge from Trivendra Singh Rawat.
“My party has appointed a common worker, son of an ex-serviceman, who was born in the border district of Pithoragarh to serve the people. “Well work on peoples issues with the cooperation of all. I will carry forward the work done by my predecessors,” the two-time MLA from Khatima in Udham Singh Nagar district said.
As Dhami takes over less than a year ahead of the next Assembly elections, his biggest challenge lies in leading the BJP to another victory and retaining power in Uttarakhand, where the party has been plagued by factionalism.
Changing chief ministers twice in a short span has not helped the party’s image, with the opposition Congress accusing it of causing “political instability” and betraying the people.
“We accept the challenge and we will take forward the party and serve the people,” Dhami said when asked whether taking over as CM just months ahead of assembly polls will be a challenge.
The chief minister-elect thanked the party leadership for reposing faith in him and assured he will work with everyone’s cooperation.
Dhami’s name was proposed by outgoing chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat and Pradesh BJP president Madan Kaushik and seconded by a number of MLAs, including former chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar who was present at the meeting as a central observer told reporters outside the state BJP headquarters.
No other name was proposed BJP legislature party leader, Tomar said.
Soon after his unanimous election as the BJP legislature party leader, Dhami headed for the Raj Bhawan along with a number of MLAs and the central observers to stake his claim to form the government.
The BJP had replaced Trivendra Singh Rawat with Tirath Singh Rawat on March 10, hoping to go into the Assembly polls with the new face, but he too was asked to step down as the Constitution required him to get elected as a member of the state assembly within six months of his appointment as CM and there seemed an increasing uncertainty over the Election Commission holding bypolls at this stage.
The opposition Congress, however, hit out at the BJP leadership, saying instead of ushering in development, it has thrown Uttarakhand into the throes of political instability and betrayed its people by repeatedly changing chief ministers.