The speculation is due to the peculiar situation arising from the fact that the CM is not a member of the state assembly. He is currently a Lok Sabha MP from Tehri Garhwal, and needs to win an assembly seat by September 10 to be able to continue as chief minister.
Normally, he could have entered the assembly after winning a bypoll. However, assembly elections are expected to be held early next year, and former Congress minister Nav Prabhat recently cited provisions of the Representation of People Act to say that a bypoll cannot be held if elections are scheduled within a year. Nav Prabhat claimed that this would leave BJP no choice but to change the state’s CM again before the assembly polls.Rawat was in Ramnagar till Tuesday to attend the party’s ‘Chintan Shivir’, a three-day brainstorming session for the upcoming assembly polls, and had just returned to Dehradun when he got the call. He cancelled his appointments for the day and left for the national capital.
Asked about the Delhi visit, Rawat said, “Since we had a three-day brainstorming session in Ramnagar, I am going to discuss the conclusions at length with the party’s senior members.” Queried on the bypoll debate, the CM said, “The party leadership will take a call on that”.
Meanwhile, Nav Prabhat, when contacted, said he did not want to comment on the CM’s visit to Delhi as “it is the party’s internal affair”. He added, “I am waiting for the Election Commission to announce its decision on the matter. But the visit does seem sudden.”
State government spokesperson Subodh Uniyal said “not much should be read” into the CM’s visit to Delhi. “A visit to Delhi is not a very big issue. Such visits by party leaders are frequent but some people are trying to exaggerate it unnecessarily,” he said. On the bypoll impasse, Uniyal said, “The responsibility of a government is to inform the Election Commission about any vacant constituency and thereafter the EC takes a call on the issue. We have duly informed the EC.”
At present, two assembly seats – Gangotri and Haldwani — are lying vacant in the state. Gangotri seat fell vacant on April 22 after the death of BJP legislator Gopal Rawat while Congress MLA from Haldwani Indira Hridayesh passed away on June 13.