Dehradun: The hill state of Uttarakhand went into the BJP fold for a second time with the party clinching a comfortable victory against the Congress in all five Lok Sabha seats. The clean saffron sweep has made state leaders hopeful of being assigned ministerial berths in the Narendra Modi government.
Three candidates have won with more than three lakh votes and the others have won with a margin of over two lakh votes. Barring Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, who got 52 per cent of the total votes polled, the rest of the four candidates secured more than 60 per cent votes.
“This trend suggests that there is an immense support for the saffron party in the hill state. Uttarakhand would most likely get representation in the Modi government,” said political analyst Sunil Pande.
In the outgoing government, Ajay Tamta was inducted as the minister of state. Sources from within the state BJP said that Tamta, who has won this time by a margin of 2,32,986 votes against Congress' Pradeep Tamta in Almora seat, could be dropped this time owing to performance issues. But Tamta hails from the Dalit community and a section in the RSS still sympathises with him.
Another ministerial hopeful is former Uttarakhand chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. State party president Ajay Bhatt, who defeated Congress general secretary and former chief minister, Harish Rawat, from Nainital, is also a strong contender.
“I have left everything (on ministerial berth) on God, let God decide my task,” Bhatt said of his ministerial aspirations. He was seen as a potential CM prior to the state assembly polls in 2017 but he lost his own seat to Congress. Nishank, on the other hand, has been a RSS pracharak and has a long political career and RSS on his side.
One more name doing the rounds is of Anil Baluni, a Rajya Sabha member from the hill state and national in-charge of BJP’s media cell. Baluni is considered as being close Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah.
In the NDA government led by late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, two MPs were inducted from the state – BC Khanduri and Bacchi Singh Rawat. Khanduri held the transport and roads portfolio and went on to become one of the most prominent faces in the NDA government.
While it is unlikely for two MPs to make it to the cabinet this time, party leaders are optimistic of at least one MP being rewarded with a ministerial berth.