Dehradun, March 10: Pauri Garhwal MP Tirath Singh Rawat was chosen the leader of the Uttarakhand BJP legislature party on Wednesday, paving the way for his appointment as the new chief minister of the state.
His name was announced by outgoing chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat after the legislature party meeting, which lasted for around 30 minutes.
Tirath Singh Rawat will be sworn-in as the new chief minister of Uttarakhand in the evening, official sources said.
They said preparations have begun at the Raj Bhawan here for the swearing-in ceremony.
Earlier, accompanied by party MLAs and MPs, Tirath Singh Rawat met Governor Baby Rani Maurya at the Raj Bhawan to stake his claim for forming the government.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 56 MLAs in the 70-member Uttarakhand Assembly.
Tirath Singh Rawat was the state BJP president from 2013-15 and is currently the party's national secretary.
He was also an MLA from the Chaubattakhal constituency from 2012-17.
His choice as the new chief minister by the BJP comes as a surprise as he was not among the favourites.
After being congratulated by the outgoing chief minister and BJP's central observer and national vice-president Raman Singh, Tirath Singh Rawat thanked the top leadership of the saffron party for giving him the new responsibility.
"I have been a humble party worker. I had never imagined that I will be a given an opportunity like this by the party. I hope that with everyone's cooperation and blessings, I will do justice to my new role," he said.
Though he has held important organisational positions both in the state and at the Centre, Tirath Singh Rawat is a first-time MP.
He defeated his political mentor and BJP veteran Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri's son Manish Khanduri of the Congress by over three lakh votes to win from the Pauri Garhwal seat in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh, whose report to the central leadership of the party set in motion the process of leadership change in the hill state, said, "With the kind of challenges facing Uttarakhand, it has got a good leader."
Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal "Nishank", who was also being considered a contender for the post, said Tirath Singh Rawat was a good choice.
"Tirath Singh Rawat is indeed a good choice. Now the BJP is sure to win the 2022 Assembly polls in Uttarakhand," he told reporters after coming out of the state party office here. - PTI