Uttarakhand chief minister Tirath Singh Rawat, who took over from Trivendra Singh Rawat barely four months ago, resigned late on Friday night. But what led to this surprise move? If sources are to be believed, internal surveys done by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were “not encouraging" as far as upcoming elections were concerned.
Rawat’s resignation came a day after Colonel (retd) Ajay Kothiyal, who helped in reconstructing Kedarnath after 2013 flash floods, announced to fight Uttarakhand bypolls against the CM on an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket.
Rawat, a Lok Sabha MP from Pauri at present, took over as the chief minister on March 10, 2021. As a constitutional obligation, he was supposed to be elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly by September 10 to continue in his office. At present, two assembly seats in the state, Gangotri and Haldwani, are vacant, where by-elections are to be held. The Election Commission had to decide the date of the elections after considering the coronavirus situation in the country.
What Next? Who Will Become the CM?
According to a report by India Today, the BJP has asked Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar to go to Dehradun on Saturday as an observer. The party high command has also called a meeting of the party MLAs at 3pm at the BJP headquarter in Dehradun.
The political drama is also an embarrassment for central leadership that has been trying desperately to fix the leadership matters in the state.
Some names have been doing the rounds for the post of the chief minister. Among them are state higher education minister Dhan Singh Rawat, former BJP state president Banshidhar Bhagat, irrigation minister Satpal Maharaj and forest minister Harak Singh Rawat. Dhan Singh Rawat was among the top most contender last time too when Trivendra Singh Rawat had quit.
Whiff of Crisis Brewing in Uttarakhand
According to a report in Hindustan, resignation of CM Tirath Rawat, who held the post for 115 days, came after three days and two meetings. The report said that top leaders of the BJP were in a huddle in Delhi for the last three days. Rawat met BJP national president JP Nadda twice within three days. They quoted sources as saying that during these meetings, Rawat agreed to quit as the chief minister.
After meeting Nadda late on Friday evening, he went to Dehradun and submitted his resignation to the governor, the report stated. Earlier, after meeting the BJP president, Rawat had said that he had discussed with the central leadership regarding the upcoming elections and the development of the state.
Regarding the by-election, the chief minister had said that it is for the Election Commission to decide when to hold the elections. He added that he will work according to the directions of the top leadership.
The report further stated that the nearly half-an-hour meeting with Rawat at Nadda’s residence on Friday took place at a time when there was already a lot of speculation about the CM’s future. Earlier on Wednesday, Rawat had met the BJP president and Home Minister Amit Shah. He was supposed to return on Thursday, but canceled his trip. After this, he once again met Nadda on Friday.
Tirath Singh Rawat and Controversies
• On March 14, Rawat in an event in Haridwar compared Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Lord Rama and Krishna. He further said that world leaders queue up for their turn to get a photo clicked with Modi.
“This is because of Modiji…I often say that Ram and Krishna were in Dwapar and Treta yuga and Ram too had worked for the society so he was admired as a god. In the coming time, we will admire Narendra Modi in the same form because such a work Prime Minister Narendra Modi is doing in the country," Rawat said.
• Two days later, during a workshop organised by the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Rawat said that women wearing ripped jeans send the wrong message to society and children.
• In Nainital on March 21, Rawat said that people with fewer “units (family members)" had ended up getting less government rations during the Covid-19 lockdown as compared to those who “reproduced 20", creating “jealousy", saying it was their fault for not reproducing enough.
• When other states were exploring containment measures following a fresh surge in Covid-19 cases, CM Rawat insisted that the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar should be “open for all".
History of Short-lived CMs
In the short history of 20 years, when Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh, 11 chief ministers have taken oath. Interestingly, only Narayan Dutt Tiwari has been able to complete the tenure of five years as CM. None of the other chief ministers have completed their term. Harish Rawat has taken oath three times at most.