With the six-month window for him to get elected to the Assembly closing, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat put in his papers on July 2.
Also, the Election Commission (EC) was yet to take a call on holding bypolls for vacant Assembly seats, which would have given Mr. Rawat a way to carry on as Chief Minister.
Mr. Rawat took over as Chief Minister on March 10, after being chosen by the BJP. As per the Constitution, he had six months, till September 10, to become a member of the Uttarakhand Assembly in order to continue in the post.
According to top EC officials, the Commission had not yet decided on holding byelections to various Rajya Sabha and Assembly seats that are vacant across the country. The EC had to examine the COVID-19 situation in the States before taking a call, a source said.
After the West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Puducherry elections were concluded in May, the EC decided to defer the byelections for Parliamentary and Assembly seats due to the pandemic. The source added that the matter of pending Rajya Sabha bypolls would be decided first, with the EC reaching out to States to assess the situation.
At the same time, the Representation of the People Act, 1951, mandates that a byelection for any vacancy should be held within six months of that vacancy arising, provided the remainder of the term is not less than one year or the EC and the Centre do not certify that holding the bypoll in that time frame is difficult.
With the Uttarakhand Assembly term till March 23, 2022, general elections in the State are less than a year away.