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More trouble for Rawat: BSP MLAs play hardball ahead of floor test

Catch Team | Updated on: 7 May 2016, 20:49 IST
The trouble
  • Despite the Supreme Court allowing him to prove his majority in a floor test, Harish Rawat faces more trouble
  • Now two BSP MLAs, who were supporting Cong as part of the People\'s Democratic Front, are playing hardball
The claim
  • BSP MLA Haridas claims the Congress has sidelined the party since the death of one of its MLAs in 2015
  • There are rumours that Rawat is trying to strike a deal with BSP supremo Mayawati
More in the story
  • Where has Rawat has sent his loyal MLAs ahead of the floor test?
  • The court case in Nainital, and how it could impact the floor test

Despite a favourable order by the Supreme Court, ousted Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat's troubles are far from over.

Latest developments in the state reveal fissures within the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) that has been extending support to the Congress, and remains crucial to Rawat's return as CM.

With six members - three independents, two BSP MLAs and one Uttarakhand Kranti Dal MLA - PDF support would decide whether Rawat makes a comeback.

BSP MLA Haridas claimed he's not a member of the six-member PDF, which supports the Congress

In a late night development, BSP legislator Haridas has threw up a surprise and claimed he is not a part of the PDF. Meanwhile, the other BSP MLA, Sarvat Karim Ansari, asserted that though he is part of the PDF, he doesn't take orders from anyone.

Sources within the Congress claim these ar arm-twisting tactics of the BSP legislators, who are hoping to negotiate a better deal with Rawat, who is most likely to win the vote of confidence.

Desperate to seal the deal

Reports suggest that the two BSP MLAs are miffed with Mantri Prasad Naithani, who heads the PDF. In a recent meeting of the Front, the BSP legislators expressed their desire to be given cabinet berths, and asked Naithani to convey the message to Rawat, which he reportedly didn't.

BSP had a minister in the Rawat government, but after his death in 2015, the party was not given any representation, claims Haridas

With 27 of its own MLAs, the support of six PDF members and a nominated member, the Congress's tally would be 34 in a house of 62, giving it a clear majority.

With full PDF support, Rawat's tally would be 34 in a house of 62, if the rebels stay disqualified

But, a jittery Rawat is not ready to take any chances and is in talks with Mayawati to seal the deal. Sources claim that the BSP supremo is in no mood to give the BJP a chance to form the government, which could give other parties ammunition to attack her in 2017 when Uttar Pradesh goes to the polls.

In order to keep his flock together, Rawat has even packed off all his MLAs, including some from the PDF, to a resort in Dhanolti, near Mussoorie, to ensure they cant be contacted.

The presence of BJP general secretary Kailash Viijayvargiya and spokesperson Anil Baluni in Dehradun has made him even more nervous. Considered to be the mastermind behind the rebellion, Vijayvargiya had been in touch with the Congress rebels before they rebelled against Rawat. Rawat is also wary of BJP leader Satpal Maharaj, previously with the Congress, who sources claim has been enticing Congress legislators considered close to him.

"It is for this very reason that Congress MLAs have been packed off to Dhanolti, and would only be brought back on the day of the floor test. Despite assurances from Congress legislators, Rawat doesn't want to take any chances," said a senior Congress leader.

Floor test still in doubt

On Friday, 6 May, the Supreme Court had directed that the Uttarakhand Assembly will undergo a floor test to break the deadlock that has led to a political crisis in the state.

The apex court, while ordering the floor test, had mentioned that the disqualified MLAs will not participate in the voting if they continue to be disqualified at the time of voting.

"This court cannot direct them to participate in the Assembly. We say no more on this score. However, our observation in praesenti will not cause any kind of prejudice to the merits of the case of disqualified Members of Legislative Assembly, which is sub-judice before the High Court," the court said.

The Supreme Court's observation was in reference to the ongoing case in the Uttarakhand High Court in Nainital, where a single bench of Justice UC Dhyani is hearing the petition filed by rebel MLAs against their disqualification by the Assembly Speaker.

The rebels had moved the high court after the Speaker disqualified them under the anti-defection law on the night of 26 March.

Expected to pronounce its order on Saturday, the high court added another twist after it reserved its judgement on the fate of the nine rebels for Monday, a day before the floor test in the state Assembly.

"The hearing has been concluded. I will pronounce the judgement at 10.15 am on 9 May," Dhyani said.

Whatever judgement the court passes, it is bound to be challenged by either party in the Supreme Court. In such a scenario, it remains to be seen whether the floor test will happen on Tuesday, or get further delayed, adding to the political drama that has lasted for more than two months.

First published: 7 May 2016, 20:49 IST