Tirath Singh Rawat’s brief stint as the Uttarakhand Chief Minister was nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. In these four months, he courted several controversies with some Opposition leaders even allegedly calling him a “disaster” for the BJP. From commenting on women’s attire, making wrong historical references to handling Kumbh amid COVID times, Rawat has landed himself and his party in several uncomfortable situations.
As the “constitutional crisis” forced Rawat to resign, we take a look at his bumpy ride at the helm of the state.
The infamous ‘Ripped jeans’ comment
Rawat had drawn flak when he said that youngsters follow strange fashion trends due to a lack of values and consider themselves to be big shots after wearing jeans ripped at the knees. Women also follow such trends. Rawat then went on to describe the attire of a woman who sat next to him on a flight. He described her as wearing boots, jeans ripped at the knees, bangles in her hands and with two children travelling with her. He also said she runs an NGO, goes out in society and has two children and wondered what values she would give them.
‘America enslaved India for 200 years’
In his overzealous attempt to praise PM Narendra Modi and his handling of COVID crisis in India, the now former CM made another faux pas when he said America, instead of Britain, had ruled India. To emphasise on the fact that India, with its huge population was faring far better than a super power like America, Rawat said, “As opposed to other countries, India is doing better in terms of handling #COVID19 crisis. America, who enslaved us for 200 years and ruled the world, is struggling in current times.”
Handling of the Kumbh Mela
Tirath Singh Rawat’s handling of the Kumbh Mela, wherein thousands of devotees gathered at the ghats of Ganges in Haridwar, at a time when COVID was peaking in the country, was widely criticized. Rawat said that the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar should not be compared with the Nizamuddin Markaz which was held in a closed space and attended even by foreigners. “There should be no comparison between Kumbh and Markaz. The Markaz was held in a closed space, in a Kothi like structure whereas the Kumbh is being held in the open on the sprawling ghats of the Ganga,” Rawat said on a weekly talk show organised by the Hindustan Times. The chief minister was replying to a question as to why the two religious events should not be equated (Nizamuddin Markaz and Kumbh) as Kumbh also draws crowds and could strengthen the second wave of the coronavirus infection. Citing other differences between the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar and Nizamuddin Markaz, Rawat said, “The devotees attending Kumbh are not from outside but our own people.”
But as cases spiraled in the state and rest of the country, Rawat’s claims meant little. In May, the Uttarakhand High Court even slammed the state government for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and for allowing religious events like the Kumbh amid the second wave.
Decision to hold Chardham Yatra
In a latest event, the state government decided to knock on SC’s door against the HC’s decision. The Uttarakhand High Court had directed the state government to not allow the Char Dham Yatra, arguing that religious faith cannot be allowed to override “public safety”. But on June 30, the Uttarakhand government approached the Supreme Court on in a bid challenge the high court’s stay.