DEHRADUN : Long-time RSS activist Trivendra Singh Rawat was on Friday elected leader of the BJP Legislature Party and will take oath as the next Chief Minister of Uttarakhand on Saturday.
His name was proposed by BJP leader Prakash Pant and seconded by Satpal Maharaj. The two BJP men were also in the race for the post.
All the other 54 Bharatiya Janata Party legislators then unanimously approved Rawat's candidature.
A former associate of now Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rawat was Agriculture Minister in the previous BJP government in Uttarakhand, which was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000.
Rawat will be sworn in as the ninth Chief Minister of the hill state at a grand ceremony at the Parade Grounds in the presence of Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.
Party sources told IANS that six ministers were also likely to be sworn in with Rawat.
"Rawat was elected leader of the BJP Legislature Party... The proposal was accepted unanimously," Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told media here.
Tomar said Rawat later met Governor Krishan Kant Paul and staked claim to forming the new government.
Rawat was elected in the presence of party observers and senior leaders from Delhi -- Tomar, Saroj Pandey, Dharmendra Pradhan, Shyam Jaju and J.P. Nadda -- as well as Uttarakhand BJP President Ajay Bhatt.
Elected from Doiwala, where he defeated Congress's Hira Singh Bisht with a margin of over 24,000 votes, Rawat is widely regarded in the party for his organisational skills. He is a 'Pracharak' in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP's ideological parent.
Besides being closely associated with Modi when the present Prime Minister was a BJP General Secretary, Tomar also worked with Amit Shah in Uttar Pradesh during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. That was when the BJP created history by sweeping 73 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, leaving only five to the opposition and two to an ally.
Rawat, a Thakur, was among the frontrunners for the post and is largely credited with the BJP win in Jharkhand where he oversaw the party's assembly polls in 2014.
In the just ended assembly elections, the BJP stunned the Congress by winning 57 of the 70 seats in Uttarakhand.
Rawat 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 replace by BJP's B.S. Koshyari in March 2001.
The Cogress won the first election in the state in 2002 and N.D. Tiwari headed the government. The BJP returned to power in 2007 with B.C. Khanduri as Chief Minister. Ramesh Pokhriyal replaced Khanduri in 2011.
In 2012, the Congress formed the government after a nail-biting finish with the BJP in the assembly elections that year. Vijay Bahuguna was made the Chief Minister but he was replaced two years later by Harish Rawat in 2014.