Uttarakhand has a new chief minister. Four days ago, Trivendra Singh Rawat was summoned to Delhi and directed to resign by the BJP leadership. Like a disciplined member, he went back and called on Governor Baby Rani Maurya and tendered his resignation. Twenty-four hours later, Delhi dispatched Tirath Singh Rawat, MP, to take over as the new CM. He was duly sworn in on Wednesday by Governor Maurya.
There was no formal meeting of the BJP legislature party. Not even a pretence of one. Welcome to the high command culture, now in the BJP. No reasons were advanced why one Rawat was given the order of the boot and the other ushered in, to the latter’s utter surprise though there were many aspirants in the state BJP legislature party itself. In other words, the MLAs, who actually are supposed to choose the leader, were not in the loop, at least formally. And were mere spectators while the 'high-command’ in Delhi called all the shots.
It is claimed, former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh was sent to Dehradun to assess the mood of the legislature party. Singh’s report sealed the fate of Trivendra Singh Rawat. It seems his position had been shaky for some time now, with the party MLAs complaining about his arbitrary style of functioning, lack of responsiveness and inept administration. He was cautioned but clearly failed to change his ways.
Another factor might have been the ambition of several aspirants for the CM’s post. Even former Uttarakhand CM and current Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari is said to have fanned the rebellion. But other reasons cited for his removal actually should have, in ideal times, worked in his favour but uprightness is a liability, rather than an asset these days.
Most MLAs groused he had cut them out even from decisions pertaining to the postings and transfers of district officials in their constituencies. Not taking his cabinet colleagues into confidence and instead, relying on the advice of senior bureaucrats was another reason for his unpopularity with the party MLAs. Good governance is always at odds with discretionary postings and transfers of senior police and administrative cadre officers.
With another election looming on the horizon, the party high command did not clearly want to go into the poll with an unpopular leader and sullen MLAs. The new CM begins on a new slate. He has been earlier a minister in the state and had also headed the Uttarakhand party unit till 2015. Uttarakhand has known little stability at the top since its founding in 2000.
Barring N D Tiwari, none of the other nine were able to complete their term. Small state gains could be consolidated by a stable and inspiring leader at the top. The hill state with tremendous potential for tourism and hydro-power generation, has failed to exploit its natural assets, thanks to the petty politicking by its politicians.