Tirath Singh Rawat’s four-month stint as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand has been marked by controversies since he replaced Trivendra Singh Rawat on March 10. Pushkar Singh Dhami was appointed as new Chief Minister on Friday after Rawat handed over his resignation letter to Governor Baby Rani Maurya following political unrest in the BJP.
Rawat, noted for the shortest term in office by any CM in the Himalayan state, had been embroiled in several controversies since he took over the chief ministerial post.
Grand Kumbh Mela During Covid
A day after he was sworn in, Rawat on March 11 issued orders to shower Kumbh Mela pilgrims with flowers from helicopters on the occasion of Mahashivratri. “The visitors should be able to take a holy dip in the Ganga conveniently. The honour of seers is paramount. A grand and divine Kumbh should be ensured," he had said.
No Need for Covid-19 Reports for Maha Kumbh Pilgrims
Tirath Singh Rawat again courted controversy on March 14 after he announced removing all “unnecessary” restrictions to Maha Kumbh pilgrims, scrapping the requirement for a negative Covid-19 test report. His statement came after the Centre issued SOPs to control Covid spread during Maha Kumbh, such as increased RT-PCR testing capacity and restrictions on people coming from eight states reporting most infections in the country.
Later, Rajesh Bhushan, Union secretary, ministry of health and family welfare, wrote to the Uttarakhand chief secretary to take stringent measures to control the spread of Covid-19 during the Kumbh Mela.
Removes State Control Over 51 Prominent Temples
Rawat also overturned the erstwhile Chief Minister’s decision to take over the management of 51 temples in the state. As many as 51 shrines, including Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri, were under the direct control of the state government after Governor Baby Rani Maurya gave her assent to the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Bill that was passed during the winter session of the Assembly.
He also scrapped appointments of 80 minister-level rank holders in the state who Trivendra Singh Rawat appointed.
He then landed on another controversy on March 16 and received flak after he criticised women for wearing ripped jeans and questioned what values they will impart to their children. Describe the attire of a woman who sat next to him on a flight, Rawat had said the woman was wearing boots, jeans ripped at the knees and several bangles in her hands. “Two children were travelling with her. She runs an NGO, goes out in the society and has two children but she wears jeans ripped at the knees. What values will she impart?"
The remarks were criticised for being distasteful and shameful.
‘America Enslaved India for 200 Years’
In a ‘slip of the tongue’, Tirath Singh Rawat on March 21 said America had “enslaved India for 200 years" and ruled the world. Comparing India’s fight against Covid-19 with other countries like America and Italy, he said, “India was America’s slave for 200 years; that country lost its balance and reported more than 2.75 lakh deaths due to Covid-19.”
Produce 20 Children for More Ration
Rawat again received flak after he said those with fewer children in their family got less government ration during Covid-induced lockdown than “those with 20 children". “Those having 10 children got 50 kg while those with 20 got one quintal. People with two children got 10 kg. People built stores and found buyers," he said
“Who is to blame for this? Now you are jealous of it. When there was time, you produced only two. Why didn’t you produce 20," he asked.
The Uttarakhand High Court had directed the state government not to allow the Char Dham Yatra, arguing that religious faith cannot override “public safety”. Expressing dissatisfaction over the state government’s preparedness to deal with a possible third wave of Covid-19, the HC had on June 28 put a stay on a state Cabinet’s decision to open the yatra for residents Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi districts from July 1.
The Uttarakhand government on June 30 moved the Supreme Court, challenging the High Court’s stay on the Char Dham Yatra.