The Congress claimed victory in Uttarakhand after a tight trust vote in the assembly on Tuesday though the official result will be declared only on Wednesday by the Supreme Court.
Sources said the Congress managed 33 votes, two more than the 31 required in a house with an effective strength of 62. The BJP is said to have managed 28, the number of MLAs it has in the assembly.
The top court – which ordered the floor test to end the nearly two-month-long impasse in the hill state -- will take the final call after watching the video of the voting and examining the report of its observer Jaidev Singh. He is likely to submit the report to the court on Wednesday.
Sacked chief minister Harish Rawat – facing a challenge to stay in power after nine of his MLAs rebelled in March – refused to comment on the outcome of the vote though other Congress leaders said the party has managed the requisite numbers.
“(The) clouds of uncertainty will vanish soon,” Rawat said and thanked the top court which had ordered the trial of strength and also upheld the Uttarakhand high court’s ruling barring the nine Congress rebels from voting.
The tone and tenor of BJP leaders also pointed to a Congress win.
“We have won in principle. But we may be behind in the number’s game,” BJP legislator Ganesh Joshi said after the voting, held during a two-hour window when president’s rule was lifted following the apex court’s ruling.
A Congress victory will pave the way for the reinstatement of Rawat’s government in the hill state which was placed under president’s rule by the BJP-led Centre, sparking a controversy over alleged attempts to topple elected governments in opposition-ruled states.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, one of the fiercest critics of the Narendra Modi-led government, was among the first to react.
“Uttarakhand floor test outcome is a huge setback to Modi Govt. Hope they will stop toppling Govts now,” he said in a tweet.
BSP chief Mayawati handed Rawat the advantage in the morning by deciding to back the Congress. The BSP has two MLAs who are part of the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) that also includes three independent and a lone Uttarakhand Kranti Dal legislator.
The voting began amidst dramatic circumstances with a rebel BJP legislator Bhim Lal Arya switching over to Congress side while Congress MLA Rekha Arya appeared to have crossed over to the BJP.
She entered the assembly with BJP MLAs waving the victory sign.
Before the voting, BJP leaders and legislators held a 10-minute long meeting and emerged shouting, “Bharat mata ki jai ho’. Party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said the BJP will win the floor test.
The Centre clamped President’s rule on March 27, just a day before Rawat was to take a trust vote in the assembly.
Rawat challenged the President’s rule in the Uttarakhand high court, which on March 29 ordered a trust vote two days later. But a division bench of the high court stayed the single bench ruling.
On April 21, the division bench headed by then chief justice JM Joseph revoked President’s rule restoring Rawat as CM and asking him to seek trust vote on April 29.
The next day, Centre got a stay from the Supreme Court against the HC order giving Rawat a place in the history books as being helm of a state for shortest period – less than 24 hours – in which he held two Cabinet meetings and took 11 populist decisions.
Immediately after the trust vote, Congress leaders and workers celebrated at the Rajiv Bhawan, the party’s state headquarters located in the heart of Dehradun.
“Aap thoda rukiye, aaj yahan bhari jashn hoga (Wait a while, there will be big celebrations here),” said Hazi Mohammad Akram, a Congress leader from Nainital.
A TIMELINE OF TURMOIL
- March 18: Rebel Congress legislatures and BJP join hands, demand division of votes on Appropriation Bill. Both move to Raj Bhawan
- March 19: Rebel Harak Singh Rawat sacked from Harish Rawat’s cabinet, Speaker issues notice ask rebels to submit reply by Mar 26; Governor ask Rawat to seek floor test on March 28
- March 19-20: Rebels and BJP move to New Delhi
- March 21: BJP march towards President’s house, complaints about constitutional crisis
- March 26: A secret video released, shows the former CM Rawat dealing for rebels. Union cabinet meets the same day, recommends imposition of President’s Rule in state
- March 27: President approves Central rule. BJP, rebels welcome the move; Congress fumes. Speaker disqualifies nine rebel Congress MLAs
- March 29: Congress moves HC against Prez Rule, single bench of HC asks for a floor test
- March 30: Double bench of HC stays the single bench order. Asks Congress and Union govt to reply
- April 4: Union govt files counter affidavit, gives reason behind imposition of Prez Rule
- April 5: HC refuses to stay disqualification of nine rebels and posts the matter for April 23
- April 21: HC revokes Prez rule after Centre fails to commit that it will not revoke its rule for a week, Centre decides to challenge the HC order in the Supreme Court. Rawat suo moto assumes CM’s office
- April 22: The Supreme Court stays the HC ruling revoking Prez rule
- May 6: SC orders a floor test in the state assembly on May 10
- May 9: SC bars rebel MLAs from voting in the Uttarakhand floor test
- May 10: Congress claims victory in Uttarakhand after a tight trust vote in the assembly; SC to declare official result on Wednesday
They were disqualified from participating in the floor test which took place on Tuesday.
Read more about them here.
The law was added to the Constitution as the tenth schedule by the 52nd amendment during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure in 1985 and it aimed to check the ‘Aya Ram, Gaya Ram’ (frequent defection by legislators) phenomenon in Indian politics.
Read more about disqualification, expulsion and splits and mergers under the anti-defection law here.