You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Uttarakhand election results 2017: Can Satpal Maharaj become BJP’s CM?

LiveMint logoLiveMint 11-03-2017 Sayantan Bera

New Delhi: With Uttarakhand headed for a clear win for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party will have a tough task at hand: who to select as the chief minister?

The BJP is currently leading in 52 out of 70 seats in the state, with Congress trailing far behind at 14, as per numbers from the Election Commission website.

For the BJP, the choice between its old party hands like former chief ministers B.C. Khanduri and B.S. Koshiyari or that of turncoats from the Congress like Vijay Bahuguna and Satpal Maharaj will not be an easy one. A tough call in a battle among equals.

Satpal Maharaj, for instance, contesting from the Chobattakhal assembly constituency, is a former spiritual guru-turned-politician. He was previously minister of state for railways and finance at the Centre from the Congress, and claims to have played a crucial role in carving out the state of Uttarakhand from Uttar Pradesh in 2000.

Following the infighting in the Congress after the 2012 elections and after Harish Rawat became the chief minister, Maharaj joined the BJP in 2014. Currently, he is a national executive member of the BJP and is contesting the assembly elections for the first time, against Rajpal Singh Bisht from the Congress.

According to a 28 February 2014 report in the newspaper DNA, Satpal Maharaj was the worst performer among MPs, managing to spend just 37% of the funds from the MP’s Local Area Development Scheme—not a comforting number for a politician who is also “rich”.

Data collected by non-profit Association for Democratic Reforms shows that Satpal Maharaj is the richest candidate in the Uttarakhand assembly elections with declared assets of over Rs80 crore.

“In Congress, I am perceived as having too much of a Hindu and spiritual identity... in BJP I feel more at home,” Maharaj said in an interview to The Times of India before the elections.

When asked if he is prepared to become the chief minister, Maharaj replied: “It is for the party to decide.” That, certainly will be a tough task!

More From LiveMint

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon