BJP mulls leadership change in Uttarakhand
The BJP central leadership summoned Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat to Delhi on Monday, mulling a change of leadership in the hill state ahead of polls early next year.
Rawat was summoned to Delhi after party observers submitted a report on his performance, in the backdrop of talk of an internal rebellion by a strong group of ministers and MLAs.
Rawat reached Delhi in the afternoon and was closeted with the top leadership at BJP chief J.P. Nadda’s residence.
Sources said all Uttarakhand BJP MLAs had been asked to be present in Dehradun on Tuesday, indicating that formalities for election of a new leader could be taken up.
Party insiders said the report by a two-member team led by party vice-president and former Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh has highlighted “acute resentment” against Rawat’s leadership reaching a point of open rebellion if corrective steps were not taken.
“There is possibility of a change of leadership. We could lose if we contest the polls under Trivendra Singh Rawat’s leadership,” one BJP MP from Uttarakhand said.
The current BJP leadership is not known to change chief ministers under pressure, but party insiders hinted at a change in thinking after the experience in Jharkhand in 2019.
Party leaders said similar complaints were made against then Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das, but the high command decided to go ahead and contest the polls under his leadership. The BJP lost the polls to the JMM-Congress combine and Das lost his seat to party rebel Saryu Roy.
Rawat was asked to cancel a scheduled programme and rush to Delhi. Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari was said to be in Delhi to informally advise the central leadership on a replacement. Koshiyari hails from Uttarakhand and was active in state politics for decades before becoming governor.
This development came even as another BJP chief minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, in Haryana geared up to face a no-confidence motion moved by the Opposition Congress over the farmers’ protest.
Party leaders, however, were confident there was no threat to the Khattar government. The BJP has 40 MLAs and combined with 10 of ally Jannayak Janata Party, the government is poised to sail through in the Assembly which has an effective strength of 88.
The Congress in Haryana, led by former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, had hoped for defections from the ruling side but BJP sources ruled out any such possibility.
The threat to Rawat in Uttarakhand, however, appeared to be real with a section of ministers and MLAs warning of open rebellion if the leadership change was not implemented, according to sources.
Four ministers and over a dozen MLAs were in Delhi on Monday to put pressure on the central leadership. Owing to repeated complaints against Rawat, vice-president Raman Singh and general secretary in-charge of the state Dushyant Gautam were despatched on Saturday to hold talks with MLAs and other key party leaders.
“Not only MLAs, even the voters are unhappy with the government’s performance. We have urged the party high command to conduct a survey and find out for themselves,” one disgruntled MLA said. “Trivendra Rawat has been a total failure,” the MLA added.