Uttarakhand Assembly undertook a floor test today to determine who is in the saddle. Though some Congress MLAs claimed victory, former Chief Minister Harish Rawat stopped short of speaking anything on the voting result. Ordering floor test, the Supreme Court had instructed that result of the test be handed over to them in a sealed cover on Wednesday.
“Cloud of uncertainty hovering over Uttarakhand will disappear tomorrow,” elated Harish Rawat said after the voting on Tuesday.
The state was placed under 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. Since then, it has been a draining legal battle which has now culminated into test of numbers for both the Congress and BJP on the floor of legislative assembly.
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.
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 have now been disqualified and therefore, cannot participate in the assembly proceedings anymore.
After Uttarakhand High Court on Monday dismissed their petition against the disqualification ordered by the Assembly Speaker, the Supreme Court too refused to give them any interim relief.
The disqualification of the rebel MLAs reduced its 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.
But 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)