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Uttarakhand: Trivendra Singh Rawat top challenge is to manage BJP infighting

LiveMint logoLiveMint 19-03-2017 Gyan Varma

New Delhi: From being a grassroots worker for the party to leading the agitation for a separate state, Trivendra Singh Rawat, the new chief minister of Uttarakhand is a man who has risen from the ranks.

After 15 years of public life, he is the chief minister of a state which gave the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a historic mandate in the recently concluded assembly elections, in which BJP won 57 out of the total 70 seats with a vote share of 46.5%.

Rawat, 57, is known to be close to party president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rawat had helped Shah prepare the ground in the 2014 general elections when Shah was handling Uttar Pradesh. Rawat worked with the Prime Minister when Modi was posted in Delhi as the national organization secretary of BJP. Modi has also handled north Indian states, including Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh for the BJP.

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The choice of Rawat for the top is not surprising because apart from his association with Modi and Shah, he is a former full-time worker of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and a former minister in Uttarakhand.

“Rawat was hand-picked by Amit Shah before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and he helped Shah in preparing for the elections in Uttar Pradesh. It is during this time that he came close to Shah and later made in-charge of BJP in Jharkhand. He became the point person between Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das and BJP president Amit Shah,” said a senior BJP leader from Uttarakhand.

Rawat joined the RSS in 1979 and became a full-time worker, a Pracharak, in 1981.

The electoral skills of Rawat were first identified in BJP during the 1996 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and 2002 assembly elections in Uttarakhand in which Rawat played a crucial role. Rawat is a postgraduate in media and journalism from Garhwal university.

During the assembly polls of 2002, Rawat made his political debut from Doiwala constituency, close to Dehradun. He represented the constituency in 2002 and 2007.

This is the third time Rawat has represented Doiwala.

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Apart from being closely linked with both the BJP and RSS, Rawat has worked under two chief ministers, Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri and Ramesh Pokhriyal.

He has handled several ministries, including agriculture and animal husbandry.

The BJP had contested the assembly polls without naming a chief ministerial candidate.

The party had four former chief ministers in Uttarakhand but had taken a decision to go for a fresh face if elected.

Political analysts say that the biggest challenge for Rawat would be to manage the infighting in BJP. “Rawat is a non-controversial organization man of the BJP and he keeps a low profile. He is educated, has a clean image but his real challenge will come from BJP because the state unit is a divided house with several factions and he will have to keep all factions happy,” said Annapurna Nautiyal, dean of the school of humanities and social sciences at H.N.B Garhwal University in Uttarakhand.

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