BJP-ruled Uttarakhand witnessed swift power play last week—the hill state’s third in four months. Tirath Singh Rawat, sworn in as CM in March after the BJP sacked predecessor Trivendra Singh Rawat, put in his papers, making way for two-term MLA Pushkar Singh Dhami to take over months before the state votes a new assembly. Tirath’s resignation was necessary to avert a constitutional crisis. A Lok Sabha MP when he was named CM, Tirath had to be elected as an MLA within six months. He said he resigned as his election “would not be possible” because the current assembly’s tenure expires on March 23, 2022—according to the Representation of the People Act, 1951, bypolls cannot be held if an assembly’s remaining term is “less than one year”. How the BJP missed this legal complication when it appointed Tirath on March 10 is a question no one in the party is willing to answer.
Dhami was sworn in on July 4 as the 10th CM in the state’s brief political history of 21 years. His elevation preceded 48 hours of political drama that spotlighted fissures in the Uttarakhand BJP. BJP leaders anonymously conceded that the party would not win in 2022 with Tirath in command since the Garhwal MP, like Trivendra, had “lost the confidence of the party’s state unit”, “lacked administrative skills” and had “alienated the electorate, particularly woman voters, by his controversial remarks”.