Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat on Friday submitted his resignation after four months at the helm of affairs. The Garhwal MP's resignation comes amid uncertainty over bypolls in the state and will now see the ruling party appoint it's third Chief Minister in five years. The development comes ahead of next year's Assembly polls and the party is now expected to be led by a new leader in elections.
While it is not yet clear who will be the next Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, there is rampant speculation at present. The BJP will be holding a meeting later today. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has now been named as central observer for the state of Uttarakhand.
"I have submitted my resignation to Governor. Given the constitutional crisis, I felt it was right for me to resign. I am thankful to the central leadership and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for every opportunity they have given to me so far," Rawat told the media.
Why did Tirath Singh Rawat resign?
Having been appointed on March 10, Rawat had to be elected to the state assembly within six months (September 10). But as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on and the state elections loom, this is easier said than done. There is no certainty over bypolls being held, which in turn has led to political uncertainty in the state. With less than a year to go before the BJP-led government's term ends, the Election Commission is unlikely to order a bypoll for vacant seats.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had also played a role in the delay. One might recall the heavy criticism from the Supreme Court earlier this year in the wake of the West Bengal Assembly elections and other local polls.
What does the Opposition have to say?
Congress leader Harish Rawat on Friday insisted that the reasons given for Rawat's resignation were inaccurate. "What can be a bigger lie than this that byelections cannot be held in Uttarakhand due to COVID and the chief minister is resigning due to constitutional compulsion. The reality is that byelections have been held before in the same COVID period. The byelection has been held in Salt (an assembly constituency in Uttarakhand). The chief minister could have contested from there also," he tweeted.
The Aam Aadmi Party in the meantime took to social media claiming that the former Chief Minister had resigned because he was "scared" of the "challenge" posed by the party.
Who will be the next Chief Minister of Uttrakhand?
A meeting of the Bharatiya Janata Party legislature party is scheduled to take place on Saturday in Dehradun. The meeting will be held at 3 pm under the chairmanship of state president Madan Kaushik.
All party MLAs have been asked to attend and Central observers will also be present. The new leader will most probably be from among the MLAs as holding a bypoll now is impossible.
Though the BJP has a penchant for springing surprises, the names of former chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, Chaubattakhal MLA and Cabinet Minister Satpal Maharaj and Shrinanagar MLA Dhan Singh Rawat have been doing the rounds as probables for the top post.
(With inputs from agencies)