M A I N   N E W S

Khanduri sworn in as Uttarakhand CM
Retains all 11 ministers of Nishank Cabinet

Dehradun, September 11
Major General Bhuvan Chander Khanduri (retd) was today sworn in as the sixth Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, replacing Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, who was dumped by the BJP high command, which is desperately looking to refurbish the party’s image for the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.

Governor Margret Alva administered the oath of office and secrecy to Khanduri, who gets back in the saddle after more than two years, at a simple ceremony here.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Maj Gen BC Khanduri (retd) being felicitated after his election as the leader of the BJP legislature party in Dehradun on Sunday. Tribune photo: Anil P Rawat
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Maj Gen BC Khanduri (retd) being felicitated after his election as the leader of the BJP legislature party in Dehradun on Sunday. Tribune photo: Anil P Rawat

After the party high command announced its decision to sack Nishank last night, senior party leaders from the state, accompanied by Rajnath Singh and Ravi Shanker Parsad, arrived in Dehradun today. Nishank went to the Governor, along with three of his Cabinet colleagues, to submit his resignation in the afternoon. His resignation was accepted.

Later, a meeting of the BJP state legislature party elected Khanduri as their leader. His name was proposed by the outgoing Chief Minister Nishank and seconded by Diwakar Bhatt, leader of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) (Diwakar faction), which is an ally of the BJP government.

After Khanduri, 11 ministers — including Rajinder Bhandari, an Independent, and Diwakar Bhatt — were also administered the oath of office and secrecy. All 11 ministers, who were part of the Nishank Cabinet, have been retained by Khanduri. The ministers, who took oath at the Rangers Ground here, were Matbar Singh Kandari, Banshi Dhar Bhagat, Prakash Pant, Diwakar Bhatt, Madan Kaushik, Trivendra Singh Rawat, Rajendra Singh Bhandari, Govind Singh Bist, Vijaya Barthwal, Khazan Das and Balwant Singh Bhoryal.

The elevation of Khanduri to the top post was preceded by intense political struggle within the Uttarakhand BJP that has been plagued by internal dissensions since very beginning. Uttarakhand came into being in 2000 and in the past 11 years, the BJP has been in power for almost six years (it ruled the state from November 2000 to March 2002 as an interim arrangement and then again came back to power after winning the Assembly poll in February 2007). In these six years, the party has changed five Chief Ministers. Khanduri is related to Garhwal’s veteran leader and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna. Bahuguna was his maternal uncle.

Born on October 1, 1934, Khanduri joined the BJP after his retirement. In 1991 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP wanted Khanduri to contest from Pauri Garhwal segment but he refused to do so as the Congress was planning to field his cousin Vijay Bahuguna from the constituency.

But at the eleventh hour, the Congress decided to field Satpal Maharaj and Khanduri defeated him to enter the Lok Sabha.

In the 1996 General Election, he lost to Satpal Maharaj but was re-elected in 1998 and 1999 elections and became the Chief Whip of the party. Khanduri was inducted as a Union Minister of State with Independent charge of the Surface Transport and Highways Ministry and elevated to the Cabinet in 2003. In 2004, he was again elected from Pauri Garhwal Lok Sabha seat.

A favourite of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Khanduri was made the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand after the BJP won the 2007 Assembly elections.

However, unlike his smooth tenure at the Centre, he started facing hurdles from his own partymen from the very beginning during his first stint as the Chief Minister.

It was former Chief Minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, who, along with party legislators, revolted against Khanduri. While party legislators revolted against his style of functioning, the results of the 2006 Lok Sabha elections - in which BJP lost all five state seats - finally resulted in Khanduri’s removal. 





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