Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat resigned on Tuesday and former Chattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and Rajya Sabha member Dushyant Gautam, sent by the BJP’s national leadership as observers to Dehradun, will conduct a meeting of the legislature party on Wednesday morning to elect a new leader who will take over as chief minister.
This brings to an end the crisis surrounding Mr. Rawat’s continuance in the post. There were complaints against him by his own party MLAs and others against his style of functioning and administration. Uttarakhand has had a record of not having a single chief minister, except N.D. Tiwari, to have completed a full term since its formation.
Mr. Rawat, in a presser held after he submitted his two-line resignation letter to Governor Baby Rani Maurya, said he was “nine days short of completing four years at the helm” and that he was grateful to the BJP and people for getting an opportunity to serve.
Mr. Rawat’s continuance became a question mark after the observers submitted a report that underlined serious concerns over his chief ministership. From being tardy in implementing the ‘chardham yatra’ projects to not being accessible to his own partymen, to facing a corruption charge wherein the Uttarakhand High Court had ordered a CBI enquiry against him (later stayed by the Supreme Court, and still being examined), there had been a multiplicity of reasons for his removal.
Mr. Rawat was summoned to New Delhi on Monday after a State core committee meeting in Dehradun on Saturday evening. He was given marching orders when he met BJP president J.P. Nadda on Monday evening.
Several names are making the rounds as his likely successor, including Education Minister Dhan Singh Rawat, Satpal Maharaj, and MPs Anil Baluni and Ajay Bhat. Of these, Mr. Dhan Singh Rawat’s name has the support of the outgoing Chief Minister as well, according to those in the know.
Sources in the BJP said that Mr. Trivendra Singh Rawat’s successor was likely to be another Rajput leader, rather than a Brahmin, as the Congress was being led by former Chief Minister Harish Rawat and political and caste equations were delicate at this point, barely months away from the Assembly polls.
Rajputs constitute around 27% of the electorate and Brahmins around 11%.
While changing a chief minister so late in his term is not usually the norm in the BJP, the party’s experience in Jharkhand, where refusal to change Raghubar Das, another unpopular Chief Minister, before the polls, had led to a rebellion in the party ranks and the BJP’s subsequent defeat in the Assembly polls.