While trying to keep its house in order ahead of next year's Assembly polls, the BJP in Uttarakhand is now focusing on Kumaon, and has started promoting leaders from the region at state and national level to match the stature of former Chief Minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari.
Underlying its stress on the Kumaon region, the Bharatiya Janata Party has made Pushkar Singh Dhami, a two-time MLA, the new Chief Minister and Ajay Bhatt, a Minister of State in the Union Council of Ministers.
A state BJP leader said: "There is a leadership vacuum within the party from Kumaon. Once there were many tall leaders but currently there are none and it seems that the party leadership is trying to establish Dhami and Bhatt as leaders from the region."
Another party leader claimed that at present, there is no BJP leader who can fill in the shoes of Koshiyari, Bacchi Singh Rawat and Prakash Pant but the BJP is seeking to project both Dhami and Bhatt from the region to compete against former Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who is also the tallest leader of opposition Congress in the state from Kumaon.
While Koshiyari is currently the Maharashtra Governor, Pant died in 2019 and Bacchi Singh Rawat passed away earlier this year.
"By making Dhami the new state Chief Minister and inducting Bhatt in the Union Cabinet as a minister, the party leadership has shown its new focused approach towards the Kumaon region. By choosing Dhami as the Chief Minister months before the state Assembly polls, our leadership has pitted a young face against Harish Rawat, said the BJP leader.
BJP's prominent Brahmin face from Garhwal, Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', was earlier this month dropped from the Modi ministry in the cabinet reshuffle and Bhatt, who is a Brahmin leader from Kumaon region, replaced him.
A party functionary said by picking Dhami and Bhatt, the party leadership has also given representation to the majority communities in the Kumaon region. "Thakurs and Brahmins have a majority in the Kumaon region. Dhami is a Thakur and Bhatt is a Brahmin leader," he added.
A section in the party feels that by giving more representation to leaders from Kumaon, the BJP leadership is trying to pacify voters who were angry with then Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat's decision of carving out another commissionerate with its headquarters in Gairsain and making Almora a part of it.
The decision was suspended by his successor, Tirath Singh Rawat, in his short tenure.
"During the election year, you cannot make anyone unhappy and it seems party leadership has started giving Kumaon its due to make people happy ahead of next year's polls," said a state BJP leader.
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