Dehradun: A retired Army major general who rose to prominence in BJP by a quirk of fate, Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri returns as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand after a gap of three years.
Forced out of office in 2009 following a campaign by his bete noire former chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari after the party lost all five Lok Sabha seats in the hill state, 76-year-old Khanduri`s return to power comes at a time when
the party is preparing for assembly polls due next year.
When BJP gave a ticket to Khanduri to contest the polls from Pauri constituency in 1991, he refused the offer since his first cousin and Congress leader Vijay Bahuguna was expected to be fielded from there.
But at the eleventh hour, Congress denied a ticket to Vijay Bahuguna, son of late Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister HN Bahuguna who was Khanduri`s maternal uncle.
This opened the door for Khanduri to contest the parliamentary polls and he shot into fame by defeating senior Congress Satpal Maharaj from Pauri seat.
Born on October 1, 1934, Khanduri, who was an engineer in the arm#Y, became chief whip of BJP parliamentary party in 1992. In 1996, he lost the elections to Maharaj but became vice president of BJP`s Uttar Pradesh unit.
He was re-elected to the Lok Sabha from Pauri in 1998 and again in 1999 when he again became chief whip of BJP during Atal Bihari Vajpayee`s tenure as prime minister.
In 2000, Khanduri became Union Minister of State with independent charge of Road Transport and Highways Ministry.
Three years later, he was elevated to Cabinet rank with additional charge of Poverty Alleviation and Development. In 2004, he was re-elected to the Lok Sabha for the third successive time from Pauri before BJP lost power at the Centre.
When elections were announced in Uttarakhand in 2007, BJP`s central leadership made Khanduri the chairman of the election campaign committee and gave a clear indication that he might become the Chief Minister if the party came to power
in the hill state.
After BJP did win the polls, Khanduri became the fourth chief minister of the state.
But Khanduri continued to face opposition from his political foe Koshiryai that led to his ouster soon after the 2009 general elections.
Interestingly, it was believed in political circles that Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank was handpicked by Khanduri as his successor.
However, as series of alleged scandals mired Nishank`s stint, Khanduri`s camp led the offensive against him finally leading to his ouster from the top job.