Dehradun: Former army general Bhuwan Chandra
Khanduri on Sunday took over as the new Uttarakhand Chief
Minister, vowing to fight corruption as BJP handed him the
reins of power barely six months ahead of assembly polls in an
apparent bid to salvage its sagging image.
Capping a two-day political drama at New Delhi, Ramesh
Pokhriyal Nishank resigned this morning after being given
marching orders by the party high command, paving the way for
76-year-old Khanduri to become the sixth chief minister of the
After some initial resistance, a reluctant Nishank, 54,
put in his papers, the second chief minister to be removed by
the BJP high command in a little over a month after BS
Yeddyurappa in Karnataka.
Later, Major Gen (Retd) Khanduri, an old war-horse, was
elected as the new leader by BJP legislature party unanimously
at a meeting where Ravishankar Prasad and state in-charge
Thavar Chandra Gehlot acted as central observers.
Governor Margaret Alva administered the oath of office and
secrecy to Khanduri, who returned to the top post two years
after he was removed by the party following its humiliating
defeat in all the five Lok Sabha seats in the 2009 general
All the eleven ministers, who were part of Nishank
cabinet, have been retained by Khanduri.
In his first policy decision, Khanduri said he and all his
cabinet colleagues along with IAS and IPS officers will
declare their assets within a month.
"Today we held an informal Cabinet meeting where I gave
directions for declaration of property by IAS, IPS and all
ministers within one month," Khanduri told reporters here,
adding that he too will make his assets public within the
"By October 15, all would have to file their property
details," he said.
Khanduri also said his government would bring a strong
Lokayukta Bill within two months incorporating suggestions of
Jan Lokpal Bill of Anna Hazare, a legislation to seize benami
property and public service right bill.
Political observers described the move as a "face-saving
formula" by the party after the Nishank government came under
cloud over allegations of corruption.
Stressing that the main focus of his government would be
"good governance", Khanduri said, "We want to do some good
work in order to win the hearts of the people as well as the
next assembly elections."
Attacking the previous Congress government, he said that
efforts would be made to unearth the truth in all "the 56
alleged scandals" during its tenure.
The cabinet ministers who took oath at the function at
Rangers Ground here were Matbar Singh Kandari, Banshidhar
Bhagat, Prakash Pant, Diwakar Bhatt, Madan Kaushik, Trivendra
Singh Rawat, Rajendra Singh Bhandari, Govind Singh Bist,
Vijaya Barthwal, Khajan Das and Balwant Singh Bhoryal.
Nishank, who went to Raj Bhavan to hand over his
resignation to the Governor Alva, later told reporters, "I`m a
party worker. I will do whatever the party wants me to do."
The high drama began unfolding on Friday with rumours that
Nishank was on his way out. After two rounds of talks with
Nishank yesterday, the BJP top brass convinced him to step
down from the post of Chief Minister.
BJP sources said the decision to remove Nishank was taken
by the parliamentary board after assessing the political
situation in Uttarakhand.
They claimed that senior BJP leader LK Advani was unhappy
with the functioning of Nishank due to a string of corruption
However, party president Nitin Gadkari yesterday denied
that Nishank was facing any graft charges and praised him
for accepting the party`s decision. He had also underlined
that the only reason for the change was the forthcoming polls.
Nishank government had come under cloud over alleged
irregularities in a Rishikesh housing project, hydro-power
projects and in conduct of Mahakumbh.
To a question regarding charges of corruption against the
Nishank government, Khanduri said he did not have to say
anything on the issue after party President Nitin Gadkari has
already clarified the factual position yesterday at New Delhi
before the media.