Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat resigned today as the state’s ruling BJP opted for course-correction a year before polls, amid growing resentment in the ranks. His exit was certain after his trip yesterday to Delhi, where he had met with the BJP leadership.
Mr Rawat, 60, handed in his resignation to Governor Baby Rani Maurya just days short of completing four years in power, becoming the latest in Uttarakhand’s history of Chief Ministers who could not finish their term. He took office in 2017 after the BJP swept the Uttarakhand election, winning 57 seats in the 69-member assembly. The Congress won just 11 seats.
“I have been working in politics for while now and my party gave me an opportunity to work as the state Chief Minister for four years- the golden years of my life. Despite coming from a rural background, I was entrusted with the responsibility to lead the state – that is only possible in a party like BJP,” said Mr Rawat.
“Now that party has taken a collective decision to entrust the responsibility of state chief ministership to some other leader.” The BJP legislature party in Uttarakhand will meet tomorrow to choose a new leader.
Rawat met BJP President JP Nadda hours after a crucial meeting of Union home minister Amit Shah with the party chief at New Delhi on Monday.
There have been reports of serious discontent from a section of the state BJP MLAs and MPs, who are bitterly opposed to the chief minister’s style of functioning.
The central BJP leadership had recently sent two observers, party vice-president Raman Singh and general secretary Dushayant Kumar Gautam, to Uttarakhand to get feedback amid reports of discontent against the chief minister.
Observer Raman Singh met several MLAs in Dehradun on Saturday to take feedback on a possible leadership change. The report was submitted to party president JP Nadda who had then summoned Rawat to Delhi.
Rawat was named the chief ministerial candidate by the BJP after it stormed to power in 2017, winning 57 of 70 seats in the state assembly.
In Uttarakhand, no chief minister, barring ND Tiwari, has completed a full term. Both BJP and Congress have changed CMs before elections, but the change never helped them in the ensuing polls.
State tourism minister Satpal Maharaj, Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, former state BJP president and Lok Sabha member Ajay Bhatt, former CM and Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, minister of state for higher education Dhan Singh Rawat, Rajya Sabha member from Uttarakhand Anil Baluni and RSS state general secretary Suresh Bhatt are said to be among the contenders for the key post. Sources said the party may also bring in a deputy chief minister, who will be from the Kumaon region, adding that Pushkar Singh Dhami could be a likely candidate for the post.
In December last year, when Nadda had visited Dehradun, RSS functionaries had conveyed that the BJP can win the 2022 Assembly elections only if it takes party workers along. Rawat’s government has since come under the scanner following last month’s flood in Chamoli when it pushed to resume work on projects suspended by the apex court.
Earlier, in October 2020, the High Court had ordered a CBI probe into allegations made by a journalist in a video, accusing Rawat of allegedly getting money transferred to relatives in 2016 to back the appointment of a person in Jharkhand. The Supreme Court had stayed the order.