Rawat gets nine days to prove strength

The Uttarakhand Cm puts up brave face despite 10 Congress MLAs switching sides.

Updated - November 17, 2021 04:50 am IST

Published - March 19, 2016 01:29 pm IST - New Delhi

A file photo of Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, whose government faces trouble following the BJP's claim that it has a majority in the Assembly with the support of rebel Congress MLAs.

A file photo of Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat, whose government faces trouble following the BJP's claim that it has a majority in the Assembly with the support of rebel Congress MLAs.

The political crisis in Uttarakhand continued over the weekend, as Governor K.K. Paul gave Chief Minister Harish Rawat of the Congress a deadline of March 28 to prove his majority in Assembly.

Mr. Rawat met the Governor on Saturday afternoon after 10 Congress MLAs turned rebel. Mr. Rawat maintained that he still enjoyed a majority in the 71-seat Assembly (with one nominated member), even as Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal, in his report to the Governor, said the Finance Bill, being considered for passage, was passed through a voice vote.

The Speaker’s report also says the demand for division was made after the House was adjourned. A video-recording of the proceedings was also handed over to the Governor. The Opposition BJP and the rebel MLAs are claiming that the Bill, a money bill, was defeated through a voice vote as at least 10 Congress MLAs had cross-voted and called ‘nay.’

Mr. Rawat called a meeting of his Cabinet before meeting the Governor and recommended the expulsion of rebel Congress MLA Harak Singh Rawat from the party. Sources said there was also talk that Subodh Uniyal, another MLA, was to be expelled.

“I am appealing to the MLAs to consider what they are doing to the party and stop this betrayal, as for myself, I am confident that I will prove my majority on the floor of the House,” Mr. Rawat said. He was to arrive in Delhi on Sunday to meet the party high command, but did not confirm it to The Hindu, saying he had “much to do” in Dehradun.

Top sources in the BJP told The Hindu that the party was in touch with more rebel Congress MLAs.

“We are in touch with two more rebel MLAs and they will be joining our ranks soon,” said a party MLA. The MLAs arrived in Delhi along with the rebel Congress leaders and announced their intention to meet BJP president Amit Shah and, if need be, President Pranab Mukherjee as well.

Congress leaders cried foul over what they termed a systematic attempt by the BJP to topple governments headed by the party in various States. “The duo of Modi and Shah is infamous for forcible eviction of elected governments. Elected governments are being destabilised by a sinister conspiracy. After Arunachal Pradesh, it is Uttarakhand,” All India Congress Committee general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

He said the BJP was resorting to such actions in the backdrop of its election debacle in Delhi and Bihar, which “convinced” the party that it would not come to power in any State through popular vote.

The BJP dismissed the allegations. “If the Congress cannot keep its flock together, it is not the fault of the BJP,” Minister for Telecommunications Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Mr. Kunjwal said: “The anti-defection law is in place and whoever is found guilty of violating it will have to be acted against.”

(With inputs from PTI)

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