Amid news of BJP mulling leadership change in Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat submitted his resignation to Governor Baby Rani Maurya on Tuesday at the Raj Bhawan in Dehradun.
Before meeting Maurya, Rawat was closeted with his close associates at the chief minister's residence including cabinet minister Madan Kaushik and state minister Dhan Singh Rawat, who has emerged as a frontrunner to succeed him.
Speaking to the media over the sudden change of guard, Rawat said that the onus for such a move "lies with Delhi". "I told you it was a collective decision of the party. You will have to go to Delhi to find that out. All decisions in the BJP are unanimous," he said after submitting his resignation.
"The party gave me a golden opportunity to serve this State for four years. I had never thought that I would get such an opportunity. The party has now decided that the opportunity to serve as CM should be given to someone else now," he added.
Rawat pointed out that on March 18, he would have completed four years in his tenure as CM and listed his schemes started by him, especially for women. It is believed that a BJP legislature party meeting on Wednesday at 10 am will select the new CM.
Meanwhile, governor Maurya has accepted Rawat's resignation as CM and has asked him to continue as acting CM till a new face takes charge.
Ajay Bhatt and Anil Baluni, two senior leaders from the state who are members of Parliament, are being seen as two other strong contenders for the top post. Sources said the party may also bring in a deputy chief minister, who will be from the Kumaon region. According to sources, the hill state is likely to get a Deputy Chief Minister as well.
The central BJP leadership recently sent two observers, party vice president Raman Singh and general secretary Dushayant Kumar Gautam, to Uttarakhand to get feedback from the party's core group in the state amid reports of discontent against the chief minister.
Earlier, BJP sources had confirmed that the party high command summoned Rawat to the national capital for "further discussions" after a meeting of the state BJP's core committee presided over by central observers was held.
However, Uttarakhand BJP chief Bansidhar Bhagat claimed there was no leadership change likely in the state and Saturday's meeting discussed events to mark the completion of the Rawat-led government's four years in office.
(With PTI, ANI and ENS inputs)