With the BJP set to claim victory in Uttarakhand, the hunt for the chief minister begins. While it's a tsunaMo in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP is eyeing a landslide victory in the hill state.
The BJP, which stuck to its tradition of not naming a chief ministerial candidate ahead of the Assembly election, is facing a problem of plenty.
While anti-incumbency against the Harish Rawat-led Congress government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's massive rallies may have tipped the scales in the BJP's favour, a credible CM face will ensure the party has a smooth run for the next five years in Uttarakhand.
WHO ARE THE CANDIDATES IN FRAY FOR CHIEF MINISTER'S POST:
#B C Khanduri: The former chief minister of Uttarakhand is a senior BJP leader and is known for his clean image. However, Khanduri was largely blamed for the BJP's defeat in the previous Assembly election in 2012. At 82, Khanduri does not have age on his side. Yet, being one of the best-known faces of the BJP in Uttarakhand, Khanduri stands a chance to be picked for the top job.
#Vijay Bahuguna: Long-time Congress leader who swtiched to the BJP just before the Assembly election, Vijay Bahuguna is a strong contender for the chief minister's post. With Bahuhuna joining the BJP, several other Congress leaders followed suit giving the party enough heft before it goes to polls.
If elected to the top post, Bahuguna will have the last laugh as the BJP had launched fierce attacks on him in the wake of the 2013 landslide and flash floods in the state. The BJP, then in Opposition, had hit out Bahuguna's inability to manage the situation effectively. Nearly four years later, the table seems to have turned with Bahuguna now weilding significant influence in the BJP.
#Ramesh Pokhriyal: Pokhriyal was the chief minister of Uttarakhand from 2009-2011, a period the BJP would rather not remember given the numerous scam charges levelled against his government. Pokhriyal (57) enjoys support in his constituency but his scam-tainted past may come back to haunt him.
#Bhagat Singh Koshyari: An RSS veteran, Bhagat Singh Koshyari was the BJP's first state president in Uttarakhand. He served as the chief minister of Uttarakhand for a brief period between October 2001 and March 2002. Koshyari is a credible face for the BJP in the state but at 74, like Khanduri, he does not have age on his side.
#Ajay Bhatt: The BJP's state president and the Leader of Opposition in Uttarakhand Assembly, Ajay Bhatt is the party's young face in the state. A popular leader who is known for his strategic bent of mind, Bhatt kept the "egos" of all senior leaders in place and ensured that the BJP's prospects don't take a hit. Despite reports of party workers not happy with Congress turncoats getting tickets to contest election, a win for the BJP's shows that Bhatt managed to convince them to work for the party.