Will Satpal be crowned the ‘Maharaj’ of Uttarakhand?
Standing tall as one of the favourites in the race for CM is 66-year-old Satpal Maharaj, the former Congressman, who on Saturday won the Chaubattakhal constituency on a BJP ticket. While in the Congress, the spiritual guru-turned-politician even served as Minister of State for Railways and Finance at the Centre. He crossed over to the BJP in 2014 and is, according to the Association for Democratic Reforms, the richest candidate to have contested the Uttarakhand assembly elections.
Maharaj boasts of having played a crucial role in carving out the state of Uttarakhand from Uttar Pradesh in 2000. 17 years later, will he be crowned king?
Will Trivendra Singh Rawat's Bonhomie With Nagpur See Him Through?
Along with Maharaj, BJP’s national secretary and party-in-charge for Jharkhand, Trivendra Singh Rawat, is among the forerunners for the CM’s post in the hill state. Rawat has administrative experience on his side and has represented Doiwala, the constituency he won today, after winning twice in the past. A former state BJP president, known for his favourable relations with Nagpur, Rawat will hope his proximity to the RSS pushes him past Maharaj and the other contenders in sight.
At 82, Veteran Ex-CM BC Khanduri Stays in the Fray
A former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, a veteran BJP leader and known for his clean image. You’d say those three factors should make Khanduri more of a favourite than a contender. So what goes against the 82-year-old? The Modi administration’s reluctance to appoint leaders above 75 years as ministers is well known. Additionally, Khanduri was also held culpable for the BJP's defeat in the previous Assembly polls in 2012. Those closely tracking the BJP, also say that it is unlikely that Modi and Amit Shah will pick an ex-Chief Minister for the top post.
Will the RSS back Bhagat Singh Koshyari to return as CM?
74-year-old Sangh veteran Bhagat Singh Koshyari had served as the CM of Uttarakhand between October 2001 and March 2002. Will Koshyari’s proximity to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh help him edge past others in this tightly contested race for the Chief Ministership? And will Nagpur be able to call the shots, given the BJP’s thumping victories in UP and Uttarakhand?
Vijay Bahuguna - the Turncoat CM-To-Be?
Bahuguna has been credited in leading the en masse movement of several Congress leaders from the grand old party to the BJP. Will the party leadership reward the former Congress Chief Minister handsomely for switching to the BJP right before the polls? Or will they stay wary of appointing a turncoat as CM?
Bahuguna’s name doing the rounds is ironic in itself, given the tongue-lashing the BJP had served him after the Uttarakhand flash floods of 2013. But if the norms of political opportunism in Indian politics are anything to go by, the BJP and Bahuguna have left the past where it belongs. Yet, especially if he can avoid it, will Modi want a long-time Congress loyalist as his satrap in the hill state?
One Rawat to Replace Another?
Harak Singh Rawat, a former Congress minister, who was part of the coterie that rebelled against the Congress government last year, on Saturday, won the Kotdwar constituency on a BJP ticket.
In a political drama that unfolded last year, the BJP had demanded the resignation of outgoing Chief Minister Harish Rawat, following allegations made by a woman in connection with a rape case filed against the BJP’s Harak Singh Rawat. A woman who, in an FIR, had accused Harak Singh of raping her, had then made a U-turn and alleged that she had done so under pressure from CM Harish Rawat.
So will the BJP choose to prop a Rawat to replace the outgoing one?
As often the case with Indian politics, everybody’s got an expert opinion, but it’s still anybody’s guess.