Technically, a chief minister in the parliamentary system is the chosen leader of a legislative party. He or she is the first among equals. However, if the CM loses their support, it is expected that a resignation will be forthcoming. This may or may not have anything to do with the government’s performance and may just be the result of internal power politics. Even an honest and hardworking person may be unable to please compatriots in the party. It may be different when the party and legislators have won owing to the leader’s charisma and support among the public, in which case particular care has to be taken by ‘high commands’ while making substitutions.
The BJP’s decision to remove Trivendra Singh Rawat emerges from the party’s need to go by the will of its legislators. It seems there was a sufficiently large number of MLAs who wanted change. He was not the party’s ‘face’ at the time of the last election and was a High Command appointee. He was given a long rope to run the state and did not exactly disgrace himself in the job. He was accused of being overly fond of his clan, but who isn’t? Those who felt neglected did not openly revolt but approached the party. If it had not acted, it would have led to the kind of indiscipline that was exhibited by the Congress during Harish Rawat’s chief ministership, leading to a large scale exodus from the party. This is the difference between a democratically run organisation and one in which CMs are vassals representing a feudal dynasty.
The opposition is celebrating TSR’s going but it should, instead, reflect on its own shortcomings. The BJP will now constitute a ministry that is more reflective of the MLAs’ wishes – the best it can. It is for the people to express their opinion on the four years of Trivendra Rawat’s tenure. His opinion and that of his supporters will have been taken on constituting the new government. Having asserted their power, it will now be the job of the legislators to deliver a favourable verdict in the next elections. Now that the factions are clearly defined, whoever does well will be able to exercise greater power in the future.
The unpleasant truth is that Uttarakhand, overall, lacks high quality leadership at the state level. All parties need to have a better understanding of what the state needs, if the basic purpose of having a government is to be served. Hopefully, whoever takes Trivendra Singh Rawat’s place will be able to do a better job under admittedly very challenging circumstances. He or she might find that Rawat didn’t do such a bad job, after all.