Challenges await the Uttarakhand Chief Minister seeking to be an MLA.

 

New Delhi: The BJP high command is in double trouble in Uttarakhand. One, there are apprehensions over Chief Minister Teerath Singh Rawat being elected an MLA within six months of taking over the post. Second, even if the Election Commission permits the bypoll, there is no safe seat in sight for the CM.

What high command cannot forget is how Teerath Singh’s political guru Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri had lost election from Kotdwar seat despite being CM in 2012. Khanduri’s own party leaders were said to have sabotaged his poll prospects.

Teerath Singh Rawat appears to be in the same situation. Rawat is supposed to win the assembly bypoll and become an MLA before 10 September as per the Constitution.

Amid this crisis, the BJP has also an option of going for dissolution of the Assembly before the term and fresh polls being announced. If this happens, the only difference it will make is that the Assembly elections will be held in December-January instead of February. But this decision is not easy to make.

The high command had appointed Teerath as chief minister after dissenting voices against the then CM Trivendra Singh Rawat in March this year. Contrary to expectations of the high command, the situation did not improve despite a change of guard. The corona pandemic made things much worse. The factionalism in the BJP continues to be there. The EC has added to Rawat’s tension by cancelling bypolls in half a dozen states due to Covid-19. There is a hope of improvement in the situation in July-August, but there is also a fear of a third wave. BJP and RSS leaders have recently taken a view of all this in a meeting some time back. Teerath Singh Rawat may have to quit as CM if byelection does not take place, which will not suit BJP’s strategy.

If an election is held, then Rawat will find it difficult to win, given some amount of perceptible anger among people hit by the corona crisis. The Gangotri seat is vacant due to the death of the sitting MLA. But Rawat is looking for a seat in Pauri-Garhwal. Sources say former Congress leader Harak Singh Rawat, a minister in Teerath’s cabinet, has offered his Kotdwar seat. But Khanduri was defeated in this seat in 2012. Teerath eyes Yamkeshwar seat being held by Kahnduri’s daughter Ritu or Satpal Maharaj’s seat Chaubatta Khal. But the latter will not leave his seat. Sources believe that Satpal Maharaj will claim CM’s post next time. Ritu’s seat is not easy for Rawat. Congress can easily give Teerath a tough time in this constituency. Rawat will also be facing a challenge from his own leaders. If Teerath does not win a bypoll before the deadline, the government may be in crisis. Even the BJP will be facing a tough challenge in Assembly elections due to be held after six months.

Political observers are of the view that the BJP has the only option to dissolve the Assembly in August-September and go for fresh polls.