SC stay worked in Cong’s favour, BJP faces rout in 2017 polls: Rawat

  • Deep Joshi, Hindustan Times, Dehradun
  • Updated: Apr 25, 2016 10:15 IST
Harish Rawat, former chief minister of Uttarakhand, addresses a press conference in Dehradun. (PTI File Photo)

Former chief minister Harish Rawat says the Supreme Court’s decision that stayed the high court order quashing President’s rule in Uttarakhand until April 27 is a setback for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as it will restrain the Centre from imposing a saffron government on the state.

In an interview with Hindustan Times, Rawat predicts that the BJP will be “routed” in the 2017 assembly elections, and the electoral contest will turn out to be a “one-sided affair” in favour of the Congress.

Is the Supreme Court order staying the Uttarakhand high court’s verdict quashing President’s rule in the state a setback for the Congress?

The apex court’s decision suits us as it restrains the Centre from imposing a BJP government on the state. So, it is a setback for the BJP and a big slap on the face of its leaders.

The BJP has alleged that you illegally reoccupied the CM’s chair for nearly 24 hours after the high court quashed President’s rule and the Supreme Court reinstated it because you did not have permission either from the court or the governor.

There was nothing unconstitutional about my taking over as the CM during the intervening period… Had that been the case, the high court would have directed me to take the oath of office again.

The BJP has alleged that 11 populist decisions taken by your cabinet during that period were unconstitutional, and with an eye on your vote bank.

There was nothing wrong in the decisions taken during that period. Most of them (decisions) were supplementary to the ones taken by the cabinet before my government was toppled on March 18. If I get even 25 minutes as CM again, I will take as many pro-people decisions in that time.

The BJP has denied any role in toppling your government, and said that it fell because nine Congress legislators rebelled against your leadership.

It is the BJP that engineered the defection in the Congress, and it will have to pay a heavy price for that. Before my government was toppled, it was a battle between the Congress and the BJP in the state. However, it has now turned into a war between democratic forces and the rule of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

But senior BJP leaders are confident that the party will prove its majority in the House.

How is that possible when they are three MLAs short of a majority? If they can do that, they should admit that they can cobble up the numbers by poaching MLAs from other parties. We, however, have the numbers and will prove our majority.

Are you ready for the assembly elections, if it were to be announced early?

The BJP helped us win more than half the poll battle by toppling our government.

What next?

I am going to start a padayatra (foot march) from Haridwar on April 25 to protest against the BJP’s move of engineering a split in our party. I have prepared the road map for a state-wide anti-defection march.

How do you rate your party’s chances in the next assembly polls?

It will be a one-sided affair in our favour, and the BJP will be completely routed. In its desperation to capture Uttarakhand, the BJP will lose even the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

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