Former ministers Prakash Pant and Trivendra Singh Rawat seem to have emerged as front runners for the chief minister's post amid speculation over who would be handed the reins of Uttarakhand by the BJP's parliamentary board. BJP's central observers, Saroj Pandey and Narendra Singh Tomar, are likely to arrive in the city tomorrow morning to hold a meeting with the newly-elected MLAs and take their views on the matter, party sources said. They said by March 17 it would be clear on who will be anointed to the post. "The factor working in favour of Pant is his long association with the party, and his ministerial and legislative experience," a senior BJP leader said. The Pithoragarh MLA, Pant, was the first Speaker of the Uttarakhand Assembly in the interim government after the state was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000. He also became a minister and held portfolios like tourism, culture and parliamentary affairs. Trivendra, MLA from Doiwala, has also managed to remain in the race for the top office because of his strong RSS background and long experience in ministerial positions. Sources said names of three former chief ministers and MPs are also doing the rounds because of their seniority, but only an MLA will be considered for the postas the party may not like to "disturb" its parliamentarians. Chances of Chaubattakhal MLA Satpal Maharaj of becoming chief minister seem to have dwindled as he is relatively new to the BJP, joining it in 2014, they said. However, things would be clear after the party's legislators vent their views in the meeting and a final call is taken by BJP president Amit Shah, who has been authorised by the party's parliamentary board to take the decision, sources said.
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