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From youth wing leader to surprise crowning: Uttarakhand CM Dhami’s steady rise in BJP

Dhami is set to continue as CM despite losing his seat in assembly polls. A 2-time MLA with a background in ABVP and BJYM, he was installed as state’s youngest-ever CM last year.

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Dehradun: After the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) victory in the Uttarakhand assembly polls — and despite losing his own seat — Pushkar Singh Dhami is set to remain in the chief minister’s chair.

The self-effacing leader, who in an interview with ThePrint, had said his chief ministership was merely work that the party had given him, and that he was just a “driver”, has proven to be a good choice for the leadership, with the BJP winning 47 out of 70 seats, defeating anti-incumbency. In the 2017 assembly elections, the party had won 56 seats.

Dhami was installed as CM — in a surprise to many — last year after a “constitutional crisis” pushed former CM Tirath Singh Rawat to quit.

While Dhami has become prominent relatively recently, he had won the Khatima seat twice before his loss this time, and had a steady ascent within the ranks of the party until he became the youngest-ever CM of the state on 3 July 2021.

Also ReadRSS swayamsevak to ABVP worker to Uttarakhand CM — Pushkar Singh Dhami’s journey to the top

Slow and steady

Pushkar Singh Dhami, the son of a former Army subedar, was born on 16 September 1975 in Tundi village of Pithoragarh district. As he grew into adulthood, Dhami racked up an impressive array of educational qualifications — he has a law degree, did his postgraduation in human resource management from Lucknow University, and also earned a postgraduate diploma in public administration.

His political career started alongside these pursuits.

During his college days in the 1990s, Dhami joined the RSS’ student affiliate Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and went on to head the BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) after the creation of Uttarakhand in 2000. He led the BJYM unit of Uttarakhand till 2008.

Dhami’s first official assignment came in 2002, when he was promoted by the state’s second chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshyari, as his officer on special duty (OSD).

Even during his ABVP and BJYM tenures, Dhami worked as a regular RSS swayamsevak in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Dhami’s big test came when he was nominated as the BJP candidate from Khatima in the 2012 assembly election. He won the seat by more than 5,000 votes, defeating Congress leader Devendra Chand.

In 2017, Dhami won from Khatima again, this time defeating local Congress heavyweight Bhuwan Kapri of the Congress. But in 2022, Kapri came back to defeat Dhami.

An unexpected crowning

Last year, Dhami was named the chief minister of Uttarakhand in a surprise move by the party leadership, following an intense period of political turmoil in the state.

Dhami succeeded Lok Sabha MP Tirath Singh Rawat, who was asked to resign due to a “constitutional crisis” within four months of his becoming CM in March 2021 as a replacement for Trivendra Singh Rawat.

Trivendra Singh Rawat had resigned as CM one year short of completing his tenure, due to complaints about his “uninspiring leadership“.

Challenges ahead

Dhami’s biggest challenge perhaps will be to establish loyal legislators in his cabinet and ensure that infighting within the party does not cast a pall on his latest tenure.

He will also have to prove himself in terms of improving the state’s financial management and implementation of the promises made in the election manifesto.

Some of the tall election promises made by the BJP include three LPG cylinders free of cost and a Rs 8,000 grant to the farmers, with the state exchequer footing the bill. Apart from this, the Dhami government will also have to address discontent among youths over unemployment.

(Edited by Asavari Singh)

Also Read: So many ex-CMs, so little campaigning: BJP’s old guard is missing in action in Uttarakhand

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