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With eye on state polls, BJP goes for new CM face

In some rapid developments in Uttarakhand, Trivendra Singh Rawat handed in his resignation as CM of the state, continuing with the trend of incumbents failing to complete their full term in office. In fact, since Uttarakhand was carved out of UP in 2000, only one CM, ND Tiwari, has been able to complete his full five-year tenure. The governing BJP has decided to replace Trivendra Singh with Tirath Singh Rawat, the party’s MP from Pauri Garhwal and a prominent Thakur face.

Needless to say, the switch comes with an eye on Uttarakhand assembly polls next year. After all, the state has never given any party consecutive terms in government and BJP would be wary of anti-incumbency building up. A fresh CM face, the party’s hoping, would arrest any slide in popularity. Moreover, rebellion against Trivendra Singh had been brewing in the state BJP for some time. There were complaints about his unilateral style of functioning and failure to connect with the party cadre. All of this boiled over after Trivendra Singh recently announced Gairsain as the third administrative division in the state by including Almora, a move opposed by the people of the Kumaon region for reasons of cultural identity.

BJP may have temporarily staved off these tricky issues by replacing Trivendra Singh. But new CM Tirath Singh has limited time to prepare the party for the assembly polls. Plus, in Uttarakhand BJP has plenty of leaders jostling for primacy. Some, like former CM Vijay Bahuguna and Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, may want to play a bigger role in the runup to polls. In fact, BJP’s problem of plenty affects it across states with leaders from other parties flocking to its ranks. Managing the new entrants and staving off friction with the old guard will be a crucial challenge for the party in state elections ahead.

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This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.



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