Rawat passes U’khand floor test; Set to return as CM

RSTV Bureau

Supreme-Court-of-IndiaCongress party has won Tuesday’s floor test in Uttarakhand, the Attorney General apprised Supreme Court on Wednesday. With this development, Harish Rawat is set to return as the Chief Minister of the state as President’s rule will go. Centre had imposed the President’s rule on March 27, incidentally, a day before then incumbent Harish Rawat government was slated to go for the trust vote as sought by Governor KK Paul.

“There is no doubt that Harish Rawat has proved majority. My instructions are that the Centre will revoke the President’s rule,” Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi said before the Supreme Court.

The floor test was finally held on the orders of top court to determine how the numbers are stacking up in the assembly. Though Congress party had claimed victory on Tuesday itself, the formal declaration of floor test was made after AG Mukul Rohtagi submitted the result to Supreme Court Wednesday morning. Congress had secured 33 out of 61 votes.

Former Chief Minister Harish Rawat, who stopped short of speaking on the voting result on Tuesday, thanked judiciary and his party leadership.

“Judiciary in a way came forward as an adjudicator of constitutional and democratic values. From the Supreme Court to the High Court, I want to thank the judiciary,” Rawat said amid high decibel celebrations at his Dehradun residence.

“We believe that after all the other sad chapters and questions (that have arisen out of this episode), the central government will come out with solutions,” he said adding the state need “active support” from the Centre and start a new chapter by forgetting the past experience.

Hailing his party leadership, the reinstated CM said Sonia Gandhi, Rahul initiated the ‘Save Democracy’ campaign to give a lead to democratic forces, other political parties and the people who gave moral support.

It all began on March 18 with Harish Rawat government loosening its grip after a rebellion within.

Before the crisis unfolded, the Congress had 36 MLAs in the 70-member Assembly, while opposition BJP has 28 MLAs. There were six other MLAs representing Progressive Democratic Front, which also supported the ruling Congress.

File photo of former Uttarakhand CM and Congress rebel Vijay Bahuguna. (PTI)

File photo of former Uttarakhand CM and Congress rebel Vijay Bahuguna. (PTI)

Nine MLAs of the Congress party, including former CM Vijay Bahuguna and senior minister Harak Singh Rawat, had rebelled on March 18 leading to political crises in the state. Those rebel MLAs were later disqualified after Uttarakhand High Court on Monday dismissed their petition against the disqualification ordered by the Assembly Speaker. Supreme Court too had refused to give them any interim relief.

The disqualification of the rebel MLAs had reduced the effective strength of Assembly to 62 and 31 as the absolute majority mark, and one member as nominated.

The issue has seen several twists and turns besides acrimony between the BJP and Congress at both state and Central level. The tiff had even echoed in the current parliament session with Congress alleging the ruling BJP at the centre of subverting its democratically elected governments in the state.

Meanwhile, defending its move to impose President’s rule, the Centre has held a firm view of governance breakdown in the state given rebellion within the ruling party and Rawat government’s failure to get Appropriation Bill passed. On its part, however, Congress party claimed that Appropriation Bill was passed by the voice vote.

Earlier, the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre got a big setback after with Nainital High Court quashed the proclamation of imposing President’s rule. Harish Rawat was reinstated as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand and a floor test was ordered to be taken on April 29.

Uttarakhand High Court division bench of Chief Justice KM Joseph and Justice VK Bist while setting aside the President’s rule, noted that President’s rule is a last resort and Article 356 was imposed “contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court”.

The Center soon rushed to the Supreme Court appealing against the High Court order. There too, the top court strongly suggested a floor test be held. The Supreme Court finally fixed the floor test proceedings for May 10 after the Centre nodded on the suggestion made by the bench.

(With inputs from the PTI)