In rejig of ministers in-charge of districts, stamp of TS Rawat’s authority
The reshuffle was carried out days after the ruling BJP won the bypoll to the Tharali assembly constituencyUpdated: Jun 12, 2018 22:26 IST
By giving primacy to his loyalists and clipping the wings of those perceived as his opponents, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, while reshuffling the duties of ministers-in-charge of districts, sent out a clear message that he is the boss.
The reshuffle on Monday was carried out days after the ruling BJP won the bypoll to the Tharali assembly constituency. Incidentally, it was the first election the ruling BJP won under Rawat’s leadership after he took over as chief minister in March 2017.
The bypoll win gave the former Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) pracharak enough ammunition to assert his supremacy. That is evident from the way he gave additional responsibility to his known loyalist and minister of state (independent charge) Dhan Singh Rawat. The chief minister, however, clipped the wings of senior member of his cabinet, Satpal Maharaj, who is seen as his adversary.
Rawat entrusted Dhan Singh with responsibilities of two districts — Uttarkashi and Tehri. He was earlier monitoring Almora district only. Maharaj who was monitoring Chamoli and Haridwar district will now monitor the affairs relating to the latter.
The former Congressman and spiritual guru who joined the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls is seen as one of the main rivals of Rawat. Considered close to the RSS, the BJP’s ideological fount, Maharaj’s name was doing the rounds for the CM’s post after BJP’s landslide win in last year’s assembly polls.
Like Maharaj, another senior minister and former Congress heavyweight, Yashpal Arya, too came at the receiving end. Arya, who joined the BJP ahead of the 2017 assembly polls, was divested of his responsibilities of Pauri and Rudraprayag districts. A prominent Dalit leader from Kumaon, Arya will now monitor only Dehradun district.
Another cabinet minister, Madan Kaushik, a known Rawat loyalist has been rewarded with duel responsibilities of Udham Singh Nagar and Nainital. He was earlier the in-charge of Dehradun district.
According to political observers, cabinet minister Prakash Pant, seen as yet another political rival of Rawat, has also not benefited much from the reshuffle. This despite the fact that he was made in-charge of Chamoli and Rudraprayag districts while the reshuffle divested him of his responsibilities of Udham Singh Nagar and Bageshwar districts. That, however, is being seen as a raw deal for Pant who hails from Kumaon, but was divested of both the districts that fell in that region. The reshuffle, analysts feel, has weakened his position in that he will not be able to spread his influence in the region he hails from.
Chief minister’s aide Darshan Singh Rawat said too much should not be read in the reshuffle. “The rejig was carried out so as to speed up development and delivery in the state,” he said.
First Published: Jun 12, 2018 22:26 IST