Capping a nine-day high-voltage political drama, the Centre on Sunday brought Uttarakhand under President’s rule citing a constitutional breakdown in the wake of a rebellion in the ruling Congress, which slammed the decision calling it a “murder of democracy” and a “black” day.
President Pranab Mukherjee signed the proclamation under Article 356 of the Constitution dismissing the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat and placing the Assembly under suspended animation this morning on the recommendation of the Union Cabinet.
The Centre was of the view that continuance of the Rawat government was “immoral and unconstitutional” after the March 18, 2016, when the Speaker declared the Appropriation Bill “passed” in controversial circumstances without allowing a division pressed for by 35 MLAs, including 9 rebel Congress legislators.
The Union Cabinet had held an emergency meeting on Saturday night presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had cut short a visit to Assam to return to the capital for the purpose.
The Cabinet considered several reports received from Governor K.K. Paul, who had described the political situation as volatile and expressed apprehensions over possible pandemonium during the scheduled trial of strength in the State Assembly on Monday.
The purported CD of the sting operation conducted against the Chief Minister that was in public domain on Saturday was understood to have been factored into the decision of the Cabinet which found it as a case of horse trading.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is believed to have briefed the President late Saturday night explaining the rationale for the Cabinet’s recommendation.
The dismissal of the Rawat government now renders Monday’s confidence vote infructuous. It also came amidst that Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal disqualifying nine rebel Congress MLAs that would have enabled Mr. Rawat to sail through in the trust vote.
Even as Congress cried foul, Mr. Jaitley justified the Centre’s decision, saying the Rawat government was “unconstitutional” and “immoral” since March 18, 2016 when the “failed” Appropriation Bill was shown as passed.
“There can be no better example of implementation of Article 356 (imposition of President’s Rule)... There was complete breakdown of the Constitution in Uttarakhand,” Union Minister for Finance and Information and Broadcasting Arun Jaitley told reporters in New Delhi.
“There were very good grounds for the Union Cabinet to recommend President’s Rule in the State... The Chief Minister had lost majority on 18th (of March) and his continuation was unconstitutional and immoral,” he said, adding it was the demand of time that the government should have been dismissed.
The Congress denounced the decision calling it a “murder of democracy” and said it showed that the BJP did not believe in democracy.
“It’s a blatant and brazen display of authoritarian, anti-democratic and anti-Constitutional mindset of the Modi government,” said Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
Sunday’s action, he said, is a grim reminder of the threat the democratic institutions of the country are facing and accused the Modi government of having breached all records in trampling the democratic norms and Constitutional traditions.
Mr. Azad recalled that earlier a Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh was also “toppled by sheer abuse of power and money“.
Among other reasons cited for dismissing the Rawat government were attempts to “change the composition of the Assembly”, “allurements” allegedly offered by the Chief Minister and long time given to him to prove his majority.
27 BJP MLAs leave for Delhi
Twenty seven Uttarakhand BJP MLAs, who were in Jaipur in the wake of a political crisis there, left for Delhi on Sunday.
The MLAs were in Jaipur since Wednesday following the crisis triggered by a rebellion in the Congress.
“We have left Jaipur and are on our way to Delhi and will reach Uttarakhand tomorrow,” BJP MLA Madan Kaushik told PTI over phone. “Now our party leadership will decide next move.”
Another MLA, Adesh Chauhan said, “It was a corrupt government and has gone now. BJP will now be able to form government.”
BJP behind move, says Rawat
Mr. Rawat condemned imposition of President’s rule, alleging that the BJP-led central government was after his government since day one.
“It had become evident since (Saturday). They had been threatening the Uttarakhad government and the State Governor,” Mr. Rawat told reporters Dehradun.
The BJP-led central government was after my government blood from day one, the Congress leader said.
Congress rebels welcome President’s rule
Former Chief Minister and leader of the rebel group Vijay Bahuguna on Sunday welcomed the development, saying the Centre was forced to take this decision because there was “murder of democracy” in the State.
He added the State was in the grip of mafias and there was high-level corruption in excise and other government departments.
“I welcome the step. I am sure that probe would be held on corruption charges against the Harish Rawat government,” he told IANS.
Mr. Bahuguna, however, was of the view that the central rule should not be in force for a long period.
Satpal Maharaj, senior BJP leader from Uttarakhand, welcomed the imposition of President’s rule and said the sting operation against Mr. Rawat was the last nail in the coffin of the Congress government in the State.