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Uttarakhand Speaker expels rebel Cong MLAs; Can CM Rawat smile now?

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 6:03 IST

Hill trouble

  • Uttarakhand Speaker Kunjwal throws out 9 rebel Cong MLAs
  • That should see CM Harish Rawat through at the floor test

More in the story

  • What will the rebels do now
  • How BJP may still topple the applecart

The political see-saw continued in Uttarakhand with Chief Minister Harish Rawat now having just about a day to prove that he has the numbers.

It is not, of course only about Rawat alone. The Congress, as a national-level political party, has big stakes involved, especially after its government fell in Arunachal Pradesh just recently.

In Uttarakhand, Legislative Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal expelled nine rebel Congress legislators late on Saturday night. That brings down the total number of members in the House to 61 now, which makes it possible for Rawat to sail through a Floor test on Monday with the support of 32 MLAs.

But his troubles are not over:

  1. Congress's rebel MLAs, sources said, may approach the Supreme Court on Monday seeking a stay over their expulsion.
  2. They have already released a sting operation, according to which Rawat allegedly took to 'horse trading'
  3. The Bharatiya Janata Party has upped the ante by submitting a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee, criticising the role of Governor KK Paul
  4. After an emergency Cabinet meeting in New Delhi to discuss the situation in Uttarakhand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for another meeting on Sunday

Congress blames Modi

The grand old party dismissed the sting as a fake and blamed Modi and BJP President Amit Shah for engineering the Uttarakhand crisis.

While CM Rawat called the sting "fabricated", party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said "after the court's decision... the BJP is now resorting to dirty politics of releasing a fake sting to defame the state government."

He was referring to the setback that the rebels, including former CM Vijay Bahuguna, suffered at the Uttarakhand High Court, which rejected their petition to reverse Kunjwal's earlier show-cause notice to them.

According to a senior Congress leader, the party would no more try to bring the rebels back into its fold after a series of failed efforts. The leader was part of a delegation of Uttarakhand Congress that updated party President Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi about the crisis.

The rebels hold on

Rebel Congress leader blamed the party for the mess: "For the last two years, we have had no Congress Legislative Party meeting in the state. State-in-charge Ambika Soni knew that we wanted a reshuffle but she just couldn't handle the situation," said rebel leader Bahuguna. He blamed the party high command for distancing itself from dissenting voices.

According to him, Mukherjee should impose Article 356 in Uttarakhand and call for fresh elections as Rawat had no right to continue as CM.

"If the chief minister has any doubts about the authenticity of the (sting) video, he should ask for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation. I would have done that."

According to the rebels, the sting proves Rawat offering up to Rs 5 crore to the rebels and ministerial berths to some of them.

BJP in anticipation

The chief Opposition party in Uttarakhand took an aggressive stand and said Governor Paul did not heed the request of the majority in the House when he gave the CM 10 days to prove majority. That much time gave Rawat an opportunity to indulge in "illegal unconstitutional practices, including horse trading".

"We told the President that after the sting, the state government has no right to continue in power even for a minute. You should take necessary action and impose President's Rule," BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya told reporters.

There's a day to go before the floor test, but before that another twist in the tale can't be ruled out at Sunday's Cabinet meeting. Remember Arunachal?

Edited by Joyjeet Das

First published: 27 March 2016, 13:35 IST