Home » Politics » #Uttarakhand: why Congress feels HC verdict has swung the battle its way

#Uttarakhand: why Congress feels HC verdict has swung the battle its way

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 6:05 IST

A day after Harish Rawat approached it against the Narendra Modi regime's decision to impose President's Rule in Uttarakhand, the Nainital High Court ordered a trust vote on 31 March.

The voting will be supervised by a Registrar General appointed by the court and the result, instead of being made public, will be submitted to the court in a sealed envelope. Interestingly, the nine disqualified rebel Congress MLAs will be allowed to vote as well, only their votes would be kept in a separate envelope.

This means the court will keep the outcome of floor test to itself until it decides on the two appeals challenging the imposition of President's Rule and the Speaker's disqualification of the nine MLAs.

Also read: Obsession with 'Congress Mukt Bharat' may cost BJP dearly. Here's how

The verdict is being seen as an embarrassment for the central government, which had imposed President's Rule Sunday on the grounds of "breakdown of constitutional machinery". The move came just a day before the Congress government was to undergo a floor test in the assembly.

Fired up

The Congress' in-charge of Uttarakhand Ambika Soni held up the verdict to target the BJP. She said the rebellion by the nine legislators was an internal matter of the party and the BJP should keep out of it. "BJP president Amit Shah has said they want a Congress Mukt Bharat, but they should do it by fighting elections and not by toppling democratically elected governments," she added.

Soni said it was not clear what the court meant by saying the disqualified MLAs would be allowed to vote. "We don't know whether they will vote inside the court or outside of it," she said. "They are no longer MLAs and will need the speaker's consent to enter the chamber of the house. And, if they vote outside, it will be the first of its kind."

If rebels' votes aren't counted, then we have support of 34 of the 61 MLAs, a majority: Kishore Upadhyay

The Congress is confident that Harish Rawat will prove his majority in the assembly and continue as the chief minister. They point out that if the votes of the nine disqualified rebels are not counted, then the 70-member House would be left with only 61 members. And the party has the support of 34 of them. "And even if the votes of the rebels are counted, we will still be in a majority," said the party's Uttarakhand chief Kishore Upadhyay.

Sniffing victory

Pointing out that Rawat had paraded these 34 MLAs before Governor KK Paul Monday, Upadhyay said, "In addition, we expect some BJP MLAs to vote for us."

Also read: President's rule imposed in Uttarakhand; Congress terms Modi-led NDA 'fascist'

The Congress supporters see the high court's verdict as a moral victory of sorts as Rawat had not been allowed to prove his majority in a trust vote on 28 March. It is also being seen as a face-saver for the chief minister whose popularity hit a low after he was purportedly caught in a sting indulging in horse trading.

"If Rawat manages to win the floor test, he is likely to play the victim card and attack the central government for destabilising Congress governments. He will also use this as an election strategy to target the BJP when the state goes to polls. This could, and will, work in his favour," said a senior Congress leader.

If Rawat wins the vote, he will use it in the election. And it'll work in his favour: Congress leader

The BJP, on its part, has decided to appeal the order, delivered by a single-judge bench, before a division bench of the high court. The hearing is likely to take place on Wednesday.

Edited by Mehraj D Lone

More in Catch:

Uttarakhand row: CM Harish Rawat calls sting operation video 'fake'

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

First published: 29 March 2016, 11:16 IST