Ending months of speculation about a change of guard, Vijay Bahuguna today resigned as Uttarakhand Chief Minister amidst indications that Union Minister Harish Rawat has emerged as a strong contender to succeed him.
Shortly before going to the Raj Bhawan to submit his resignation to Governor Aziz Qureshi, the former High Court judge-turned-politician said he was resigning on the directives of the party high command.
"I am resigning from the post of Chief Minister on the directives of the party high command. Tomorrow there will be a meeting of MLAs and I request them to pass a resolution with consensus authorising Congress President Sonia Gandhi to elect the new chief minister," Bahuguna told reporters.
Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and AICC General Secretaries Janardan Dwivedi and Ambika Soni, who is in charge of party affairs in the state, will be here tomorrow as central observers for ensuring a smooth changeover.
Speculation was rife for months over Bahuguna's ouster after his leadership skills come under scrutiny in the wake of a natural calamity of catastrophic proportions that had hit the state in June last year claiming thousands of lives.
Bahuguna's alleged delayed response with rescue operations being launched about four to five days after the calamity struck on June 16-17 came in for bitter criticism, prompting the party high command to look for a substitute for him.