Khanduri quits, takes moral responsibility

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi, Dehradun | Updated: Jun 25 2009, 04:19am hrs
The uncertainty prevailing over the future of Uttarakhand chief minister B C Khanduri ever since the Lok Sabha results came in, ended on Tuesday, with him announcing his resignation.

Taking moral responsibility for the partys defeat in the five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand, Khanduri offered to resign, which has been accepted, party president Rajnath Singh said.

A clearly peeved Khanduri, however, noted that the party had performed creditably in around seven elections, including local-body elections, held under his tenure, and hinted at others having worked against party interests in the general election.

The BJP will decide on his successor at a meeting of the state legislative party, convened in Delhi, Wednesday.

Khanduris decision to quit comes in the wake of the partys core group meeting held at the residence of L K Advani on Monday. While Khanduri was Advanis original choice, he is now said to be for a candidate who enjoys majority support, and has also stressed on the youth factor.

The BJP has 35 MLAs in the 70-member Assembly, and Khanduri though acknowledged as an able administrator has been charged with alienating the karyakarta. Khanduri, who claims the support of 19 legislators, is said to be backing Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank to succeed him. Prakash Pant is also said to be in the reckoning. Khanduri is currently the only Brahmin chief minister in BJP ranks, while Pokhriyal and Pant too are Brahmins. Another name doing the rounds is that of Trivendra Singh Rawat.

Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, who had threatened to quit his Rajya Sabha membership to force a change of guard in Uttarakhand, isnt likely to be picked up. While he is also lobbying hard to get MLAs to his side, and Rajnath Singh is said to be backing him, a sizeable section of the central leadership has not taken kindly to his resignation drama.

After the Bihar experiment when BJP MLAs had been asked to come to Delhi and use secret ballot to decide the fate of state deputy chief minister Sushil Modi this is the second such occasion when state legislators have been summoned to Delhi for a legislative party meeting.