The Uttarakhand government appeared headed for a crisis on Friday as the BJP said it was in talks with some Congress legislators, hours after saffron party MLA Ganesh Joshi was arrested for allegedly beating up prized police horse, Shaktiman.
BJP leader Tirath Rawat told news agency ANI that 12-13 Congress legislators were in touch with them due to “growing resentment”.
“You will know by this evening what is happening. We are the people’s voice,” senior BJP leader Bhagat Singh Koshyari told ANI.
BJP sources told HT they are in touch with a few sulking Congress MLAs who could abstain during voting on the state budget.
But the Congress dismissed the reports. “There is no danger to our party, we’re secure. All MLAs are with us,” said Kishore Upadhyay,Uttarakhand Congress president.
To chalk out strategy, BJP MPs Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Bhagat Singh Koshyari and national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargia will meet in Dehradun.
In a House of 70 members, chief minister Harish Rawat enjoys the support of 42 legislators – 37 from the Congress, three independent and two Bahujan Samaj Party members – while the BJP has 28 MLAs.
The dramatic developments came after Joshi was arrested on Friday morning from a hotel for allegedly breaking 14-year-old Shaktiman’s leg. The BJP condemned the arrest and leader of opposition Ajay Bhatt and other party MLAs raised the issue as soon as Vidhansabha met at 11am.
The party requested Speaker Govind Kunjwal to permit Joshi to participate in the House proceeding during the ongoing budget session.
Supporters of Joshi, who is the Mussoorie MLA, have called for a bandh.
The BJP MLA is facing three cases in the local Nehru colony police station. One section pertains to the animal cruelty act while some other sections relates to hindrance in the official work and mishandling with the government employees.
The beloved police horse, Shaktiman, became a household name after a viral video clip showed Joshi brandishing a stick and appearing to strike the horse during a BJP protest rally. The incident triggered criticism from activists and rival parties as photographs of the injured animal spread on social media.