Move to float Third Front hastened Nishank’s exit in Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun: Why did the BJP high command beat a hasty retreat in the matter of changing Uttarakhand chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ and replacing him with Maj Gen (retd) BC Khanduri is now being discussed in political circles here.

The buzz word is that a Third Front was in the offing and as there was no dynamic leader to lead it in the forthcoming vidhan sabha elections due in Feb next year in the state, the managers behind were thinking in terms of roping in Khanduri, of which the BJP top brass got information.

Reliable sources here said that with the prevailing rampant corruption in the state, discontent was brewing amongst the masses against the present political set up. And as even the Congress was a mute spectator to the happenings, it was widely felt that the moment was about right to float a new political outfit to encash this growing anger and disenchantment.

Parleys had started amongst the Uttarkhand Kranti Dal, left organizations and disenchanted politicians, but the rider was who would lead the front and the leader must be one who commanded respect amongst the electorate.

It was by and large felt that former chief minister and minister in the NDA government at the centre, Maj Gen Khanduri, was just about the right person and his close confidante Lt Gen TPS Rawat jumped into the bandwagon. He started a tirade against the Nishank-led BJP government in the state and was suspended from the party, which gave him the required leeway to plan freely.

It was also decided that the proposed Third Front should have a broad base, for which Gen Rawat formed the Uttarakhand Raksha Morcha to rope in the large population of serving and ex-servicemen.

Though Khanduri himself did not come out openly against the BJP government in the state, as he wanted to keep his bridges with the central BJP leadership in tact, he made his intentions clear to the people in general and the targeted service and ex-servicemen in particular by leading a march against corruption in the state and supporting Anna Hazare.

Even in party meetings he became vocal against the prevalent corruption, though he was cautious enough not to name any one in particular in his speeches.

Party sources said that word reached the BJP high command of the ground realities and the fact that should Khanduri lead the proposed Third Front in the making, it could well ring the death knell of the party prospects in the ensuing vidhan sabha elections.

Khanduri was called to Delhi, where he made it clear that he would not contest the elections under Nishank, and similar sentiments were repeated by another former chief minister, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, thereby sealing Nishan’s fate, they claimed.

“The very fact that the issue of Uttarakhand was taken up and decided within 24 hours, indicate the seriousness with which the BJP high command took the issue of the proposed Third Front. When matters of other states, particularly regarding change in leadership despite allegations of corruption are conveniently put on the back burner by the central leadership, the any delay here would have meant curtains for the BJP in the forthcoming vidhan sabha elections”, party sources contended.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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