DEHRADUN: After intense firefighting by party leaders to contain rebellion, Pushkar Singh Dhami (45) took oath of office and secrecy as Uttarakhand’s 11th chief minister at Raj Bhawan here on Sunday evening. Apart from Dhami, 11 ministers from the outgoing Tirath Singh Rawat ministry were sworn in, including all those who were frowning at his appointment.
The tense drama continued till the last minute, as very few were aware of the grumpy leaders joining the ministry. “It was a surprise as everyone thought only the chief minister-designate will take oath. When the announcer called the names of 11 members of the Tirath Singh Rawat cabinet, it was clear that all wrinkles had been ironed out,” said a party insider.
Prominent among those who were furious were Satpal Maharaj, Harak Singh Rawat, Yashpal Arya and Bishan Singh Chuphal. Satpal Maharaj was said to be the angriest. According to party sources, he had left the meeting of the BJP legislature party mid-way on Saturday and tried to seek time from the Central leadership to share his resentment.
He was one of the strongest frontrunners for the CM post and had the backing of the RSS, sources said. Apparently to mollify Satpal Maharaj, Dhami called on him earlier in the day. A senior Central leader is learnt to have spoken to the sulking leader, after which he agreed to join the Dhami cabinet. The party was worried as initially names of at least 35 dissenting MLAs were doing the rounds.
Central observer Dushyant Kumar, Nainital MP Ajay Bhatt and minister Dhan Singh Rawat did the firefighting, thrashed out an amicable formula for power sharing and put a lid on dissidence. However, it meant the greenhorn chief minister would have little leg room to manoeuvre. For the record, Chuphal, who himself was a CM candidate, denied rumours on being upset. “I am happy as my young brother has been chosen the CM. I will help him in every way possible,” he said.