The tenure of Uttarakhand’s CM has been in turmoil since the day state was formed. We have witnessed that hardly any CM has completed his full tenure without being faced either internal rivalry or anti-incumbency. Uneven developments in the state, hill vs plain divide, caste equation and above all leader’s personal relation with central high command (Delhi), etc. being considered for political instability. As many political pundits observed that the exit of two BJP chief Ministers i.e. Trivendra Singh Rawat and Tirath Singh Rawat was not just a constitutional crisis. Let’s go into the deeper analysis of political developments that have increased political instability in the state.
Trivendra Singh Rawat (18th March 2017 to 10th March 2021):
He remained in the office for 3 years and 357 days. Many political observers have cited various reasons for the resignation of Trivdendra Singh Rawat such as
(a) his due to distance relationship with BJP central leadership i.e. Modi-Shah,
(b) Putting restriction in the organization of Kumbh Mela,
(c) Over-dependence on Bureaucracy,
(d) Internal rivalry within BJP and lack of expansion of the cabinet, etc.
In order to unite all factions, BJP high command appointed Madan Kaushik as Uttarakhand Chief and asked him to assess the ground reality. Meanwhile ignoring the fact that Tirath Singh Rawat was not a leader of masses being elevated to the post of CM due to his close relationship with Bhagat Singh Koshyari, a committed RSS pracharak and current governor of the state of Maharashtra. While neglecting Anil Baluni and Dhan Singh Rawat, both are close to RSS and enjoy goodwill in central leadership as well.
Tirath Singh Rawat (10th March 2021 to 4th July 2021):
After becoming the CM, Tirath Singh Rawat reversed many vital decisions of his predecessor Mr. Trivendra Singh Rawat such as
(a) Organizing Kumbh Mela in the midst of covid-19 and putting people’s lives in danger,
(b) Commitment to disband Char Dham Devasthanam Board
(c) Putting on hold of creation of commissioner ate at Gairsain
(d) Questioning women/girls who were wearing ripped jeans, etc.
Below we have highlighted two issues that triggered the politics of Uttarakhand as if
Kumbh Mela the super spreader of Covid-19 second waves:
Kumbh Mela means a lot to Sanatanies and to Hindus and so as the responsibility. The responsibility bearer should make clear and strict decisions and address the guidelines to the public of the State and the people who will visit the Mela from other States. Rather than this, he (Mr. Tirath Singh Rawat) took the decision to remove the requirement of the Covid test. He further said, “Kumbh happens only after 12 years. Therefore, we do not want people to miss on the opportunities of experiencing the festivals”. So, this left him surrounded by controversies, and courting the controversies over the fake RT-PCR test during the Kumbh Mela and mismanagement of the issue had also affected his goodwill.
Opening of tourism Sector:
To boost the tourism sector, the hotelier requested the former CM to remove the restriction of RT-PCR in tourists and allow hotels to operate 50%-75% occupancy. Just to boost the tourism sector during Covid-19, when the corona was at its peak, it obviously questions the government whether they were putting the entire state at stake just to boost the tourism sector.
Is BJP indirectly trying to target the Mamta Banerjee?
On the 3rd of July, 2021 in front of the Union Minister Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar and other BJP leaders a new CM will be assigned to the State, since Mr. Tirath Singh Rawat filed the resignation within 4 months of minister ship of the State. For this reason he could not handle the situation of the state, which lead the state to instability. “Target is not Tirath Singh Rawat but Mamata Banerjee. Tirath Singh was the sacrificed goat who had been sacrificed to ensure that Mamta did not get elected. The way she has challenged the prime minister. We all know the PM does not accept any challenges. We have seen what happened to L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi” said Congress MLA and deputy leader of the opposition Karana Mahra in an interview.
Let’s have a look at legal provisions:
As per article 164 (4) of the Constitution, “a Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister. Further, Section 151 (A) of Representation of People Act 1951 says that by-elections to be held for Parliament or State Legislature for a vacant seats within 6 months. If we read Section 151 (A) with Article 164 (4) then it lays down two conditions:
(I) if the period of the vacant seat is less than a year then there is no need to conduct by-election
(II) if the Election Commission of India in the consultation with Central Government certifies that it is difficult to held by-election within the stipulated time period.
Therefore the central authority of the BJP has not willing to support of by-election in the state of Uttarakhand that resulted in resignation of Tirath Singh Rawat. Many political pundits said that it might affect Mamata Banerjee’s CM candidature as well.
In case of Unicameral Legislature:
Unlike Maharashtra both Uttarakhand, as well as West Bengal, have a unicameral legislature means one house i.e. State legislative assembly. In the bicameral legislature, as it happened in the state of Maharashtra, where after having lots of political tension between the Governor, Shiv Sena, and BJP, Mr. Uddhav Thakarey was nominated from the state legislative council. But in the case of West Bengal, the situation is different and that’s why all political pundits keep a bird’s eye view on 5th November.
Supreme Court in SR Chaudhary vs State of Punjab in 2001 clearly ruled out that a person cannot become a minister or a chief minister again after the expiry of 6 months if he is not elected. Upon asking about the recent constitutional crisis in the state of West Bengal and Uttarakhand and to disallow a by-election, the former president of Supreme Court Bar Association Dudhyant Dave said, “I don’t think this argument will hold water before the law court. Elections were held in Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry at the height of the pandemic. How can they stop this now? The court will not permit it”. Lastly, much depend on the newly appointed chief election commissioner that how he would assess the ground situation, and whether he allows to conduct the election or not.