Trivendra Singh Rawat Tuesday resigned as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, ending days of speculations about a leadership change in the BJP-ruled hill state amid reports of discontent against him. Rawat submitted his resignation to Governor Baby Rani Maurya at the Raj Bhawan here upon his arrival from Delhi after meeting the central BJP leadership.
After submitting his resignation, Rawat said the Uttarakhand BJP Legislature Party will meet at the party’s state headquarters here at 10 am Wednesday to choose his successor.
Sources told CNN-News18 that state minister Dhan Singh Rawat has emerged as a frontrunner to be the next chief minister. PTI quoted sources as saying that Ajay Bhatt and Anil Baluni, two senior leaders from the state who are members of Parliament, are also being seen as two other strong probables.
Earlier, before proceeding to the Raj Bhawan, Rawat was closeted with his associates at the chief minister’s residence including Cabinet minister Madan Kaushik and state minister Dhan Singh Rawat.
Rawat was going to complete four years in office on March 17.
Soon after submitting his resignation, Rawat addressed a press conference at his official residence, telling the media that the party has “collectively decided” that someone else should lead the state now. He said he comes from a humble background and never even imagined his party will give him the honour of serving Uttarakhand for nearly four years as a chief minister.
No chief minister, except the late ND Tiwari of the Congress, has completed his or her five-year term as the CM of the young hill state which was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in November 2000. “I feel really honoured that my party gave me the opportunity to serve Devbhoomi for nearly four years,” Rawat said.
“Now, the party has collectively decided that I give this opportunity to someone else. So, I have submitted my resignation to the Governor. I wish all the best to whoever takes over from me,” he said.
He said that during his tenure, several steps were taken for the empowerment of women including a recent ordinance giving the ownership rights to women in the ancestral property of their husbands. Asked as to what was the reason behind his replacement, Rawat did not divulge much. “I told you it was a collective decision of the party.”
On being queried further, Rawat quipped, “You will have to go to Delhi to find that out.”
Central party observers Raman Singh and Dushyant Kumar Gautam are also scheduled to land in the state later Tuesday to oversee the process of change of guard in the state. State BJP president Bansidhar Bhagat, state minister Dhan Singh Rawat, Vikas Nagar MLA and Pradesh BJP, chief spokesman Munna Singh Chauhan, Cantt area MLA Harbans Kapoor and Dehradun MLA Sunil Uniyal Gama were also present at Rawat’s last press conference as the chief minister.
Rawat became the chief minister of Uttarakhand on March 18, 2017 when the BJP stormed to power, winning 57 of the state’s 70 Assembly seats. The central BJP leadership had recently sent Raman Singh and Dushayant Gautam to the state to get feedback from the party’s core group amid reports of discontent against the chief minister, as the state enters a poll year.
Speculations about a change of leadership began after the two arrived here on Saturday last week for an unscheduled meeting of the state party’s core committee.
Raman Singh is said to have met all the core committee members individually to take their feedback before submitting his report to the party high command. Rawat was summoned to Delhi on Monday to meet the Central leadership.
With his resignation, Rawat joins the group of nearly half a dozen former chief ministers of Uttarakhand who had to step down without completing their tenure including Nityanand Swami, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Vijay Bahuguna and Harish Rawat.