The new Uttarakhand Chief Minister was denied BJP ticket in 2017

Dehradun: Tirath Singh Rawat was denied the BJP ticket to contest the Uttarakhand assembly polls in 2017. Four years later, the party has picked him for the top job in the state.

Replacing Trivendra Singh Rawat ahead of next year’s assembly polls, the new CM, sworn in Wednesday, has the reputation of being a simple and down-to-earth leader.

Though a first-time MP, Rawat has held key organisational positions with the party, both in the state and at the Centre.

He was the state’s first education minister, a part of the interim government when Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh. He went on to become the state BJP president from 2013 to 2015 and is now a national secretary.

In the 2017 assembly polls, the BJP nomination for Chaubattakhal went to heavyweight Satpal Maharaj, overlooking Rawat’s claim to the seat he had won in 2012.

But the party made up to him. Rawat was soon made a national secretary and given the ticket to contest from Pauri Garhwal Lok Sabha constituency in the 2019 general elections.

In that poll battle, he was pitted against BJP veteran and former chief minister Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri’s son Manish Khanduri, who was the Congress nominee. The senior Khanduri appeared to maintain distance as both his son and Rawat – who was considered his own protege – tried to dig into his support base.

Rawat, who had described himself as the true heir to Khanduri’s political legacy, won by 3,02,669 votes, one of the biggest margins in the state.

Tirath Singh Rawat’s wife Rashmi, a professor of psychology, vouches for his “simplicity”.

“He is simple and unassuming despite having occupied several organisational positions, and a long political experience. These are his virtues,” she told reporters after Rawat was elected leader of the state legislature party.

“He is a serious man and does not speak much,” she said.

Rawat’s principal challenge now is the assembly election next year, when his organisational experience will be put to test as the party hopes to retain power in Uttarakhand.

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