Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat handed in his resignation to his party BJP today, barely four months after he took charge and just ahead of polls next year in the state.
Tirath Rawat, who had been in Delhi for the past three days for meetings with the BJP leadership, was asked this afternoon by the ruling party to quit. Soon after, he sought an appointment with Governor Baby Rani Maurya. But before meeting with the Governor, he handed in his papers to his party chief JP Nadda.
BJP MLAs in Uttarakhand will meet tomorrow to pick a new leader.
Mr Rawat was sworn in as Chief Minister in March, with a little over a year to the Uttarakhand election, amid fierce dissent against then Chief Minister Trivendra Rawat.
But to keep the post, Mr Rawat, who is an MP, would need to win an assembly seat and become a member of the Uttarakhand legislative assembly by September 10.
To hold bypolls at this time would be a tough decision for the Election Commission after the massive controversy over the March-April election in five states, held alongside rising virus cases in the second surge.
“There are many by-elections due. The Covid situation is a major consideration,” Election Commission sources had said this morning.
To the BJP’s chagrin, the new Chief Minister did no better than his predecessor in defusing the infighting in Uttarakhand.
Sources say Satpal Maharaj and Dhan Singh Rawat have sent feelers to the leadership that they are interested in the top post.
Earlier this year, they had lost the race to Tirath Rawat.
Tirath Rawat’s brief stint was packed with controversies. The BJP’s Uttarakhand leaders had complained to the Delhi leadership about public anger at some of his pronouncements.
Mr Rawat even embarrassed his party by criticizing his predecessor’s policy decisions.
Soon after taking over, Mr Rawat made widely-condemned remarks on women wearing ripped jeans. He also said the US, not Britain, ruled India for 200 years.
His handling of the Kumbh Mela at the peak of the Covid spike and the comment that “no RT-PCR test was required” provoked a huge backlash.
The BJP, say sources, decided to cut its losses even at the risk of projecting turmoil in the hill state.