NEW DELHI : Former Uttarakhand BJP chief Trivendra Singh Rawat was sworn in today as the state's chief minister after the party won a landslide victory there in last month's Assembly polls.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah were among the top BJP leaders who attended the swearing-in ceremony. Governor KK Paul administered the oath. The BJP won 57 seats in the 70-member Assembly.
Rawat defeated the Congress's Hira Singh Bisht in the Doiwala constituency with a margin of over 24,000 votes. This was his third win from the constituency where he has contested elections from since 2002.
"My own belief is that people in the state want opportunities that will help them grow. Therefore, our focus is going to be on development of the hills as well as the plains by providing suitable opportunities for people," Rawat told TOI yesterday.
Rawat has considerable administrative experience as he was a minister in the BJP governments led by B C Khanduri and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.
The 57-year-old will be the fifth BJP chief minister in Uttarakhand. The party formed its first government in the state when it was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000, with Nityanand Swami as the first Chief Minister. Swami was replaced by BJP's B.S. Koshyari in March 2001.
Rawat, a Thakur leader, was among the frontrunners for the Uttarakhand chief minister's post, in part due to his strong RSS roots. He was an RSS pracharak from 1983 to 2002 and held several important positions in the Sangh. Besides Rawat, Satpal Maharaj and Prakash Pant were in the race for the post.
The former Uttarakhand BJP chief is also known to be close to BJP president Shah and the party's central leadership, which likely strengthened his chances at heading the state's executive. During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Rawat was given responsibility of regional election in-charge in Uttar Pradesh under Shah.
Rawat joined the RSS when he was 19 and has been fiercely loyal to it and the BJP.
So impressed was Home Minister Rajnath Singh with his unflinching devotion that while asking people to vote for Rawat, he had said, "Trivendra Singh Rawat ne kabhi apni nishtha nahin badli (He never switched his loyalty)."