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Harish Rawat's U'khand govt set to collapse, 9 Cong MLAs turn dissident

Raju Gusain | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:59 IST
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The numbers

  • In the 70-member Uttarakhand Assembly, Congress has 36 MLAs and the support of six others, while BJP has 28
  • With the support of nine Cong rebels, BJP will be able to topple the Harish Rawat government

The protagonists

  • At the head of the revolt are former CM Vijay Bahuguna and agriculture minister Harak Singh Rawat
  • Bahuguna wanted a Rajya Sabha seat, but CM Rawat sent actor-politican Raj Babbar to the Upper House instead

More in the story

  • BJP leaders met Governor KK Paul - what happened next?
  • Harish Rawat\'s style of functioning, and how it led to this crisis

Update on 19 March 2016 at 7:30pm

Uttarakhand Governor Krishan Kumar Paul asked Chief Minister Harish Rawat to prove his majority in the state assembly by 28 March.

***

The Harish Rawat government in Uttarakhand is in trouble. Late on the evening on Friday, 18 March, nine Congress MLAs chanted slogans against their own party's government in the state Assembly, led by former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and state agriculture minister Harak Singh Rawat.

The government was left red-faced as Harak Singh and education minister Mantri Prasad Naithani engaged in a heated argument. The rebels demanded a vote on the floor of the house on the budget presented by the government.

Read: Cong summons Manipur CM & party chief after 25 MLAs turn dissident

Harak Singh and the other rebels then headed for the Governor's House to meet Krishan Kant Paul and inform him that the government does not have a majority in the state Assembly any more, and that it should be dissolved.

Till late in the night, BJP and Congress members were gathered at the state Assembly in large numbers, shouting slogans supporting their favoured parties. Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal adjourned the house till 28 April.

But on Saturday, CM Harish Rawat claimed that he still had the numbers, and was ready to prove his majority on the floor of the house.

Seat position in the Assembly

The Congress has 36 members in the 70-member state Assembly. It has taken the support of three independent MLAs, two BSP MLAs and one Uttarakhand Kranti Dal member to take its tally to 42 seats. But now, with nine rebels, Congress doesn't enjoy a full majority in the house.

On the other hand, the BJP has 28 MLAs, and if the Congress rebels join hands with it, it'll have the bigger number.

Governor Paul had been in Delhi on Friday, but had to rush back to Dehradun late in the night after the political drama took place. He confirmed through a press statement that the BJP leaders had met him.

Congress has 36 MLAs and the support of six others in the 70-member house. The BJP has 28 members

"BJP leader and leader of the opposition Ajay Bhatt had met me, with other supporting MLAs, on Friday night. The BJP leader provided details about the budget session of the state Assembly. Action in accordance with norms of the Constitution will be taken after gathering information about the episode," he stated

'Anti-people govt'

Harak Singh charged the government with being anti-people, because it is 'helping' the sand and liquor mafia.

He claimed that the other MLAs against the government are: Vijay Bahuguna, Subodh Uniyal, Shaila Rani, Umesh Sharma, Pradeep Batra, Shailender Mohan Singhal, Amrita Rawat and Kunwar Pranab Champion.

Also read- Arunachal govt in trouble: 22 Cong MLAs align with BJP, party blames Centre

The bigger surprise was the stand taken by Bahuguna, a very senior Congress leader who seems to have decided to part ways with the party. Nobody had ever expected him to join hands with the BJP.

Observers say CM Rawat himself is to blame for the crisis, for running a one-man show, indulging in vindictive politics and giving power to his political advisors.

One-man show

From the day he took charge as CM, Harish Rawat went out of his way to chop the Bahuguna group down to size. The CM wanted everyone in his own camp, but that can obviously never happen.

After getting removed as CM two years ago, Bahuguna was not keen to contest any elections; instead, he wanted a Rajya Sabha seat. But, rather than trying to placate the senior leader, Harish Rawat ignored his requests and, instead, sent actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar to the Rajya Sabha from Uttarakhand.

Vijay Bahuguna wanted a Rajya Sabha seat. Harish Rawat sent Raj Babbar to the Upper House instead

Bahuguna supporters were not given any importance in the cabinet. He kept getting more and more annoyed, till he finally snapped and joined hands with former Pauri MP Satpal Maharaj, who had himself left the Congress owing to differences with Harish Rawat. Satpal's wife Amrita is one of the rebels.

Soon, Harak Singh joined hands with them and the trio became a decisive force, with a little help from the BJP.

Political advisors to blame

Harish Rawat's political advisors must also take the blame for the current crisis - in particular, the CM's industries advisor Ranjeet Singh Rawat.

Ranjeet, who lost the Assembly elections from the Salt seat in Almora district, is the most outspoken, and is often seen to lack basic courtesy.

Read more: Not just Harish Rawat, Congress has a history of practising soft Hindutva

His media statements on Harak Singh and Amrita were the last straw for the rebels. On Harak Singh, he said: "If Harak Singh Rawat is not satisfied with the state government, he should resign."

Making a sharp attack on Amrita, he said: "She is not going to Ramnagar as she has done little development work there. She is not in a position to face the public."

Ranjeet remains an unchecked force. With his often-provocative quotes and off-hand remarks, he has damaged the CM's standing in the state.



Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 19 March 2016, 1:37 IST
 
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