The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on March 10 announced Tirath Singh Rawat as the new chief minister of Uttarakhand.
Rawat, Lok Sabha MP from Pauri Garhwal, will replace Trivendra Singh Rawat who submitted his resignation to Governor Baby Rani Maurya on March 9 amid reports of disquiet within the BJP state unit.
The 56-year-old leader's name was finalised in the meeting of the Uttarakhand BJP's legislature party held in Dehradun on March 10 to decide Trivendra's successor.
The new CM was sworn in as the ninth chief minister of Uttarakhand.
Sources said his name was picked over prominent candidates including Union Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' and Uttarakhand minister Dhan Singh Rawat.
"I thank the Prime Minister, the home minister and party chief who trusted me who is a mere party worker who comes from a small village. I would have never imagined that I would reach here. We will make all efforts to meet people's expectations and take forward work done in last four years," said Tirath Singh Rawat after his name was announced by his predecessor.
Read: Explained: ‘Unpopular' or ‘non-performer’ - What led U'Khand CM Trivendra Rawat to step down a year ahead of polls
Trivendra Singh Rawat, who would have completed four years in office next week, had submitted his resignation to Governor Baby Rani Maurya on March 9, days of speculation about a leadership change in the state amid allegations of non-performance and resentment within the state BJP over his style of functioning.
There have been reports that a section of the BJP leaders from Uttarakhand were not happy with Rawat’s leadership. They believed that he may not be able to lead the party to success in the elections due in February 2022.
"Low profile, organisation man"
Born in Sinro village of Pauri Garhwal district on April 9, 1964, Rawat has been president of HNB Garhwal University Students' Union in 1990s, apart from being an RSS pracharak between 1983 and 1988. He has also been state vice president of Uttar Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and secretary Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) students' wing affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
He was the BJP chief in Uttarakhand from February, 2013 to December, 2015. In his term, he travelled across the state, then under Congress rule led by CM Vijay Bahugana. He has also been a member of the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly from Chaubttakhal seat between 2012 and 2017. Rawat was also first education minister of Uttarakhand under Nityanand Swamy's government in 2000. He was elected MP from Pauri Garhwal Lok Sabha seat in 2019 by defeating his nearest rival Manish Khanduri by more than three lakh votes
"He is more of an organisation man who has always kept a low profile. His clean image is an advantage especially when the state is going to polls next year," a BJP leader said.
Work cut out
Tirath assumes the top post a year ahead of 2022 assembly elections in the hill state. His predecessor would have completed four years in office on March 18. Sources said BJP did not want to take a risk and hence chose a man with clean image who goes well with every one. The BJP came to power in Uttarakhand by bagging 57 seats in the 70-member legislative assembly in 2017. The next election is due in February next year.
"Trivendra Singh Rawat was also a low profile leader but he had annoyed some people in his government. There was a resentment and the party had to take a call. Also, Trivendra has graft case dating back to days before he became the CM. The case is being heard in the Supreme Court," another BJP leader said.
Also, read : History repeats itself in Uttarakhand as Trivendra Rawat quits a year before his full tenure
Sources said among first decisions that the new CM is expected is rolling back of two controversial decisions by the previous chief minister -- the Chardham Devasthanam Management Board Act and establishing Gairsain Commissionerate. The Chardham Board Act, aimed at extending government control over 51 Hindu shrines in the state, including Badrinath and Kedarnath, had sparked resentment. The Gairsain Commissionerate decision had not gone down well with many in the government, too.
Tirath Rawat was in politics before Uttarakhand state was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000. In 1997, he was elected as member of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council and was elected as president of the legislative council of Uttar Pradesh.