Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat has requested an appointment with the state governor this evening amid reports that he will resign, barely four months after he took charge.
Tirath Rawat had been in Delhi for the past three days and had several meetings with the BJP leadership. Soon after his meeting with BJP president JP Nadda this afternoon, he sought an appointment with Governor Baby Rani Maurya.
Mr Rawat was sworn in as Chief Minister in March, with just 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.
For the Election Commission to announce by-polls at this time seemed like an unlikely prospect, given the Covid crisis and the massive controversy over the March-April election in five states alongside rising virus cases in the second surge.
Election Commission sources told NDTV that it is consulting with various states on elections. “There are many by-elections due. The Covid situation is a major consideration,” the sources had said this morning.
To the BJP’s chagrin, the new Chief Minister did not do better than his predecessor in defusing the infighting and winning over rivals.
Sources say Satpal Maharaj and Dhan Singh Rawat have once again sent feelers to the leadership that they are interested in replacing Mr Rawat. They had challenged Trivendra Rawat too, but the party had chosen Tirath Rawat at the time.
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.