Political uncertainty persists in Uttarakhand after Chief Minister Tirath Sight Rawat extended his stay in Delhi this week where he is reported to have met top BJP leadership, including party president JP Nadda.
All eyes are on the Election Commission which is yet to decide whether to hold bypolls in the state during the Covid-19 pandemic. Rawat, who took over as CM in March this year after a rebellion forced out his predecessor Trivendra Singh Rawat, needs to get elected to the state assembly by September.
Rawat is currently a Member of Parliament from Pauri and is yet to resign from the seat. There are currently two assembly seats vacant in Uttarakhand assembly – Gangotri and Haldwani.
However, legal and constitutional issues have been raised over whether the Election Commission can hold bypolls amid the pandemic if the term of the state assembly is anyway scheduled to end in less than a year.
If it becomes constitutionally untenable to hold bypolls, will the BJP move to replace Rawat with a sitting MLA or go for early polls. Names of two sitting MLAs are doing the rounds in the former scenario – Minister of State (independent charge) Dhan Singh Rawat and cabinet minister Satpal Maharaj.
The BJP may also decide to replace Rawat with another MP sometime in August. In this case, the new CM will not have to face bypolls since the assembly tenure ends in March 2022, coinciding with the six-month deadline to be elected to the House.