Tirath Singh Rawat (File photo)
NEW DELHI: Will Tirath Singh Rawat’s stint as Uttarakhand chief minister see a premature ending?
The possibility cannot be discounted amid reports of a likely leadership change in the state. Rawat, a BJP MP, was sworn in as CM on March 10, replacing Trivendra Singh Rawat. He needs to become a member of the state assembly before September 10 to continue in office.
The Uttarakhand assembly currently has two seats vacant- Gangotri and Haldwani, and Rawat could have made it to the assembly by winning a bypoll from one of the seats.
However with the term of the state assembly due in March, Election Commission may not conduct by-elections.
Section 151A of the Representation of People Act, 1951 mandates the Election Commission to fill vacancies in Parliament and the state legislatures through bypolls within six months from the date of their occurrence, provided that the remainder of the term of the new member is one year or more.
Rawat was on Wednesday urgently summoned to Delhi to meet the BJP top brass amid reports of a possible leadership change to tide over the crisis. He was to return on Thursday, but had stayed back. He told reporters on Friday that it is the EC’s prerogative to hold or not conduct the bypoll, and the party will decide the next step accordingly. As per latest reports, he is on his way back to the state capital Dehradun.
There are speculations in political circles that the state could be headed for early assembly elections.
Going by some Uttarakhand BJP leaders’ interpretation, however, the law neither prevents nor makes it mandatory for the EC to hold bye-elections in such circumstances.
Election Commission may not find it easy to go for a bypoll in Uttarakhand, political observers said, recalling court observations against the EC for “risking” people’s lives through elections amid a pandemic.
They also point out that bye-elections are also due in other parts of the country and the hill state cannot be made an exception.
(With agency inputs)