Uttarakhand gets a 'pracharak' CM in Trivendra Singh Rawat

Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat
Trivendra Singh Rawat, 56, was sworn in as the eighth chief minister of Uttarakhand on Friday. The Bharatiya Janata Party leadership handpicked him from among several aspirants, including four former Uttarakhand chief ministers that it has in its ranks.

But Rawat has the antecedents that former chief ministers B C Khanduri, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Ramesh Pokhriyal and Vijay Bahuguna, as also other contenders like Satpal Maharaj and former Assembly Speaker Prakash Pant lacked. Rawat has been a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pracharak, as have been Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

Rawat, the youngest of nine children of a middle class family from Pauri Garhwal district, spent nearly two decades in the Sangh, having joined it when he was 19. Rawat’s father was employed with the Bengal Engineering Group, Roorkee. Party sources disputed that Rawat’s years in the RSS were the only consideration. A soft spoken person, Rawat had impressed BJP chief Amit Shah when he had worked with him in Uttar Pradesh in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

After his years in the Sangh, where he was first a pracharak in Dehradun and later Meerut, Rawat was made in the BJP organising secretary in the early 1990s. After Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh, Rawat contested from Doiwala constituency in 2002, an election which he won. He also won the subsequent 2007 Assembly polls, but lost from his new constituency of Raipur in the 2012 Assembly polls. 

In 2014, Rawat contested a bypoll from Doiwala when Pokhriyal vacated the seat after getting elected to the Lok Sabha. However, Rawat was worsted by the Congress candidate. According to sources, few have seen Shah as angry and upset as he was on Pokhriyal after Rawat lost the bypoll. The party suspected that its local unit in the constituency, people who owed their allegiance to Pokhriyal, didn’t support him. Rawat secured a victory in 2017 with a sizeable margin of nearly 25,000 votes.

Apart from being the party organising secretary for Uttarakhand region, responsible for communication between the Sangh and BJP, Rawat has also been party incharge for Jharkhand where the BJP won an unprecedented victory in 2014 Assembly polls and formed its first ever government. 

Rawat served as the state agriculture minister in the BJP government in the state between 2007 and 2012. The only blemish in his otherwise spotless career was when his name cropped up in what came to be known as the ‘seed scam’. In his defence, Rawat has said the reports were motivated and the investigation ordered by the subsequent Congress government didn’t find any evidence of his involvement.

Rawat did his initial schooling at a government school in his village, and graduated from the government degree college Jaiharikhal, Lansdowne. He did his post-graduation from Garhwal University. He joins the list of several politicians from Pauri Garhwal who have become chief ministers of Uttarakhand, including Khanduri, Pokhriyal and Bahuguna.

Incidentally, Pauri Garhwal currently has a significant presence at the top of India’s defence and security establishment. National Security Adviser Ajit Kumar Doval, the chief of India’s external intelligence agency RAW Anil Dhasmana and Indian Army chief Bipin Rawat are all from Pauri Garhwal district.

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