New Delhi: Seeking to salvage its sagging
image in poll-bound Uttarakhand, BJP on Saturday announced Bhuvan
Chand Khanduri would replace Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank as
the Chief Minister of the state.
After two long rounds of talks with Nishank, the BJP top
brass convinced him to step down from the post of Chief
Minister in the wake of a series of alleged scams against his
"Keeping in view the forthcoming elections in
Uttarakhand, BJP has decided for a change of leadership in
Uttarakhand. B C Khanduri will be the new chief minister of
the state. The decision will be endorsed by the party MLAs at
a meeting in Dehradun tomorrow," party president Nitin Gadkari
told reporters after a four-hour meeting.
He was flanked by Nishank and party general secretary
"It was conveyed to Nishank that the party wants a
change of leadership in view of the elections. There have been
some allegations in the media that there are cases of
corruption against him. The party wants to make it clear that
there are no charges against him," Gadkari said.
He reiterated the only reason for the change were
the forthcoming polls.
BJP General Secretary and Chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar
Prasad will be the central observer during the meeting of MLAs
for finalising Khanduri`s name.
Sources said though the decision to remove Khanduri had
been taken at the Parliamentary Board meeting of the party
last Friday, BJP top brass did not want to ruffle any feather
by sacking Nishank unceremoniously.
Gadkari insisted that even after Nishank quits his post,
he will be given due respect in the organisation and will play
an important role in BJP`s election campaign in Uttarakhand.
"I am grateful to Nishank that when the decision to go
for a change of leadership was conveyed to him, he accepted it
with grace in the best interests of the party," Gadkari said.
Nishank will meet the Uttarakhand governor tomorrow
afternoon and submit his resignation. Khanduri is likely to
take oath tomorrow or on Monday before the start of the
"Shraddha" month which is not considered auspicious for making
a new beginning.
This will be Khanduri`s second term as Chief Minister in
this Assembly which was elected in early 2007. He was made the
chief minister after the polls but had to go in June 2009 when
his bete noire Bhagat Singh Koshiyari rebelled against him and
claimed to have the support of a majority of party MLAs.
Earlier this morning, the BJP top brass held a meeting
with Nishank and conveyed to him that he will have to step
down in the wake of a series of alleged scams facing his
However, the party did not want to embarass him before
the National Integration Council meeting for which he had come
to the national capital. Hence, the announcement was put off
till late evening.
Nishank`s performance had not been upto the mark and
the alleged cases of graft were affecting BJP`s image in the
hill state, the sources said.
Khanduri, a former army officer, has the image of an
honest and no-nonsense leader who commands a lot of respect
among retired defence personnel in Uttarakhand. The state
sends a lot of young men to the defence forces.