Pushkar Singh Dhami on Wednesday took oath as the Uttarakhand chief minister, beginning his second term with a ceremony at which eight other members of his new cabinet were also sworn in.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several top BJP leaders attended the swearing-in, taking place nearly two weeks after the assembly election results.
Though the Bharatiya Janata Party returned to power with a strong mandate in the hill state – bagging 47 of the 70 seats in the results declared on March 10 – Dhami failed to win from his own Khatima constituency.
He now needs to be elected as an MLA within six months to continue as chief minister.
The BJP MLAs who took oath as ministers at the Parade Ground ceremony are Satpal Maharaj, Dhan Singh Rawat, Subodh Uniyal, Premchand Agarwal, Rekha Arya, Ganesh Joshi, Chandan Ram Das and Saurabh Bahuguna.
Except former CM Vijay Bahuguna's son Saurabh Bahuguna, Bageshwar MLA Chandan Ram Das and Rishikesh legislator Premchand Agarwal, they were part of the previous Dhami-led cabinet. Agarwal was the Speaker in the previous Assembly.
Altogether, the Uttarakhand ministry can have up to 12 members.
Uttarakhand Governor Lt Gen (retd) Gurmit Singh administered the oath to the minister.
Apart from PM Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, BJP president J P Nadda and chief ministers of BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Assam attended the swearing-in ceremony.
After the ceremony, Dhami went to the official CM's residence where he touched his mother's feet and his supporters showered flower petals on him. A guard of honour was also presented.
Dhami was plucked out of obscurity by the BJP last July to replace Tirath Singh Rawat as chief minister with just months to go before the assembly elections.
He was the third leader to occupy the CM’s post during 2021. Earlier in the year, Trivendra Singh Rawat had to make way for Tirath Singh Rawat.
Dhami is the state’s 12th CM and, at 46, the youngest.
He visited the Tapkeshwar Mahadev temple in the morning and also offered prayers at a gurdwara in the city, ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.
Dhami has earlier served as an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) and adviser to Maharashtra Governor and former Uttarakhand chief minister Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
He began his political career in 1990 with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and was the state president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha twice. He campaigned for reservation of jobs in industries for the local youth.
Son of an Army subedar, Dhami graduated from Lucknow University in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations, and also has a degree in law.