BJP goes with tried & tested CMs — Dhami in U'khand, Sawant in Goa
New Delhi: Putting all speculations to rest and weighing in favour of youth, continuity and ability to perform under pressure ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, BJP decided to repeat both the existing Chief Ministers in Goa and Uttarakhand. The party on Monday evening named Pramod Sawant as Goa CM and Pushkar Singh Dhami as the Uttarakhand CM after the in-charges of respective states held legislative party meetings. The decision comes after 11 days of winning the assembly polls. Reportedly, Dhami's defeat from the Khatima assembly constituency and Sawant's limping victory from the Sanquelim assembly constituency of Goa put BJP in a dilemma on the choice of both the Chief Ministers.
The BJP won 47 out of 70 seats in Uttarakhand, whereas in Goa, it won 20 out 40 seats and have the support of two Independents and the two MGP MLAs.
In Uttarakhand, BJP's win ensured for the first time in the state's 21-year history that a party came to power for the second term, while the CM himself lost by a slim margin of around 6,500 votes in his constituency. However, according to local BJP leaders, Dhami took charge of the state when it was grappling with a series of problems and with elections just around the corner. Dhami had little time to prove himself.
Speaking to Millennium Post, BJP's state in-charge Dushyant Gautam mentioned: "We do not believe that if the CM loses his constituency, he is unable to serve the people of the state. At the same time, we believe in our leaders' and workers' contribution towards clean governance in the state and Dhamiji led that in the past eight months."
He further added: "Not only did he focus on strengthening the party's hold on the ground, but he also worked hard towards implementation of the central schemes in the state."
Pushkar Singh Dhami is also said to share proximity with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The party top brass feels that the youngest Chief Minister is an appropriate candidate to execute PM Modi's 10-year plan for the state. At the same time, the saffron party's vision is to promote the 'new batch of leadership'.
Earlier, while talking to the media, Union Home minister and former party president Amit Shah confirmed that BJP leadership is opting for 'potential' and 'young' face from every booth level and district for mainstream politics.
Dhami, 46, is from a new batch of leadership that came up, in his case, in rather ominous circumstances for the party, after the state saw three CMs in a single year in 2021 — Trivendra Singh Rawat, Tirath Singh Rawat and Dhami himself. He was born in Pithoragarh, and for nearly three decades he had been associated with the student wing of the RSS. He was also associated with the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha from 2002-2008 while at the same time serving as an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to then CM and current Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari. Dhami was first elected as an MLA from Khatima in 2012, and then again in 2017, but failed to win in 2022.
He belongs to the Thakur community and experts feel that Dhami had to balance not just the various factions within the party in the state, but competing ambitions and resentments created due to the Chardham Devasthanam Board — passed by his predecessor Trivendra Singh Rawat in 2019, which sought to extend government control over more than 50 Hindu shrines. Later, Dhami formed a commission to look into the issue and promptly acted on its advice of scrapping it.
On the other hand in Goa, CM Pramod Sawant managed to win from Sanquelim by only 666 votes, having trailed his Congress rival in the initial rounds. But still, the BJP top brass preferred to give him another chance. Reportedly, Sawant, who has a background in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is considered to be close to BJP general secretary (Organisation) B L Santosh and state general secretary (Organisation) Satish Dhond, who is known in Goa as the power behind the CM's chair. According to the local BJP leadership, despite opposition vote consolidation in the state and a major anti-incumbency wave, the saffron party managed to win 20 assembly seats among 40. Hence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recommended Sawant's name as the CM, a party source claimed.
Sawant won the 2012 and 2017 elections from North Goa's Sankhalim assembly constituency, which used to be a Congress stronghold. In 2017, Sawant was elected as the Speaker. He was also the former chairman of the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation, a special purpose vehicle set up by erstwhile Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to take up various infrastructure works in the coastal state.
Sawant was born on April 24, 1973, and hails from Kothambi, Pale, Bicholim, Goa. He has done his Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine and Surgery degree from the Ganga Education Society's Ayurvedic Medical College in Kolhapur. He completed his post-graduation degree in Master of Social Work from Tilak Maharashtra University.