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Col. Vijay Rawat (retd.), younger brother of Gen. Bipin Rawat, joins the BJP in the presence of Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami in New Delhi on January 19, 2022.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Former Uttarakhand CM bows out of fight

Late Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat’s younger brother, Colonel (retired) Vijay Rawat, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) here on Wednesday, ahead of the party’s decision on candidates for the February 14 Uttarakhand Assembly elections.

In another development, former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat wrote to BJP president J.P. Nadda expressing his unwillingness to contest the Assembly elections.

Col. Rawat, who met Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami earlier in the day, joined the party at the headquarters in presence of Mr. Dhami and BJP Uttarakhand president Madan Kaushik. Introducing Col. Rawat, Mr. Dhami said he had served in the Indian Army for 34 years and came from a family with three generations in the forces.

Mr. Dhami said the BJP was the only party that respected the defence forces, citing the example of the decision to implement One Rank, One Pension. Mr. Dhami said Gen. Rawat, who passed away in a helicopter crash in December 2021, had wanted to work for the state of Uttarakhand, where he was born, and now Col. Rawat was taking that thinking forward.

Col. Rawat said his father had been “with the BJP” after retiring from the Army and now he had got the opportunity to do so after retirement. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “unique” vision and “out of the box thinking” were reasons behind his decision to join the BJP. He said the BJP was a “hard-working party” and the one that truly wanted the good of the country.

Uttarakhand, a State with a large population of ex-service members, has seen parties raise issues concerning retired soldiers in the election campaign. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had fielded Col. (retd.) Ajay Kothiyal as its chief ministerial candidate and promises government jobs to all ex-service members.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trivendra Rawat requested not to be fielded in the elections, saying he would work for the party’s campaign under Mr. Dhami. According to sources, recently expelled BJP Minister Harak Singh Rawat may contest on a Congress ticket from Doiwala, Mr. Trivendra Rawat’s constituency.