Updated: March 10, 2021 12:57:01 am
Nine days before completion of four years at the head of a BJP government in Uttarakhand, Trivendra Singh Rawat resigned as Chief Minister Tuesday, saying the time had come to pass on the baton.
With Uttarakhand scheduled to go to Assembly polls next year and growing disquiet in the state party unit over his style of functioning, Rawat, who returned from New Delhi Tuesday after meeting BJP president JP Nadda, handed over his resignation letter to Governor Baby Rani Maurya at 4.15 pm.
The Governor accepted Rawat’s resignation and asked him to continue on the post until a successor takes charge. A meeting of the BJP legislature party has been called Wednesday morning to elect the next Chief Minister.
Asked about the reason for his resignation, Rawat said: “Yeh samuhik nirnay hota hai aur iska bahut acchha jawab aapko Delhi jaana padega uske liye (A collective decision is made. And for an appropriate answer, you will have to go to Delhi).”
Speaking of his past association with the RSS and the BJP, Rawat expressed gratitude to the BJP for giving him an opportunity to serve Uttarakhand as Chief Minister for four years.
“Party discussed and collectively took a decision that I should hand over this opportunity to somebody else. Nine days are left for completion of four years (of his government),” he said.
Highlighting key decisions he took as Chief Minister, Rawat said whoever gets the responsibility Wednesday will continue the schemes. “I have my best wishes for him,” he said.
That a leadership change was imminent became evident last Saturday when the Budget session of the Assembly in Gairsain was adjourned sine die ahead of schedule, and BJP national vice-president Raman Singh landed in Dehradun for a hurriedly convened meeting of the state core committee.
Several ministers and MLAs were called to Dehradun. As an observer, Raman Singh met members of the committee and senior leaders separately in the absence of Rawat.
On Monday, Rawat cancelled his programmes in Chamoli and rushed to Delhi where he met Nadda and BJP national media in-charge Anil Baluni.
The BJP asked Rawat to step down at a time when he had drawn up plans for a grand celebration in all 70 Assembly constituencies to mark four years of his government on March 18.
The main function was to be held at Rawat’s constituency Doiwala in Dehradun district and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had been invited as chief guest. Even after the core committee meeting, Rawat held a meeting Sunday with BJP district presidents in Gairsain to discuss preparations for the event.
There was growing disquiet in the state unit and some MLAs and factions had approached the party’s central leadership to express dissatisfaction over Rawat’s style of functioning. They had also conveyed to the RSS that winning the next election under Rawat’s leadership could be a challenge, sources said.
“A major section of MLAs and BJP workers were complaining that officers in districts were not paying heed to their recommendations about works, and that the CM was not taking action against these officers. There was a lack of coordination between the government and the BJP organisation. A damage-control exercise was explored in the past by holding meetings with MLAs and party functionaries, but after the recent developments, a leadership change was the only option left,” a functionary of the RSS said.
The MLAs were also upset that three cabinet berths remained vacant in the government for two years and Rawat was not going for an expansion of his government, keeping key portfolios with him.
A BJP leader said Rawat, without consulting MLAs, made an announcement during the Budget session to make Gairsain the third commissionerate in the state. “Nobody was demanding that. In fact, party leaders wanted Almora, the cultural hub of the state, to be made a commissionerate,” the leader said.
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