Former army general Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri on Sunday took over as the new Uttarakhand Chief Minister, vowing to fight corruption as BJP handed him the reins of power barely six months ahead of assembly polls in an apparent bid to salvage its sagging image.
Capping a two-day political drama at New Delhi, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank resigned Sunday morning after being given marching orders by the party high command, paving the way for 76-year-old Khanduri to become the sixth chief minister of the hill state.
After some initial resistance, a reluctant Nishank, 54, put in his papers, the second chief minister to be removed by the BJP high command in a little over a month after B S Yeddyurappa in Karnataka.Later, Major Gen (Retd) Khanduri, an old war-horse, was elected as the new leader by BJP legislature party unanimously at a meeting where Ravishankar Prasad and state incharge Thavar Chandra Gehlot acted as central observers.
Governor Margaret Alva administered the oath of office and secrecy to Khanduri, who returned to the top post two years after he was removed by the party following its humiliating defeat in all the five Lok Sabha seats in the 2009 general elections.
All the eleven ministers, who were part of Nishank cabinet, have been retained by Khanduri. In his first policy decision, Khanduri said he and all his cabinet colleagues along with IAS and IPS officers will declare their assets within a month.
“Today we held an informal Cabinet meeting where I gave directions for declaration of property by IAS, IPS and all ministers within one month,” Khanduri told reporters Dehradun, adding that he too will make his assets public within the timeframe.
“By October 15, all would have to file their property details,” he said.
Khanduri also said his government would bring a strong Lokayukta Bill within two months incorporating suggestions of Jan Lokpal Bill of Anna Hazare, a legislation to seize benami property and public service right bill.
Political observers described the move as a “face-saving formula” by the party after the Nishank government came under cloud over allegations of corruption.