The spotlight in Uttarakhand’s political crisis shifted on Friday to six non-Congress and non-BJP legislators who are likely to decide the fate of deposed chief minister Harish Rawat during the May 10 test of strength in the assembly.
However, there is a rider to the possible scenario in the assembly – the six men will come into play only if the high court upholds the disqualification of nine Congress MLAs whose rebellion led to the upheaval in the hill state.
The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the floor test for Rawat but said the nine rebels will not vote if the Uttarakhand high court does not lift their disqualification by the assembly speaker. The HC is likely to decide their fate on Saturday.
In the 70-member house, Rawat will need the support of 32 MLAs if the nine rebels’ disqualification is upheld.
The Congress, which has 27 legislators, claimed support of the six legislators including three independent, one Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) and two Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLAs.
The six MLAs stood by Rawat under the banner of the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) but sources said that their allegiance could change.
While BSP leader Sarvat Karim Ansari said their MLAs will follow the diktat of party chief Mayawati, there was uncertainty about the UKD and independents legislators.
The BJP – aiming to grab power with the help of the Congress rebels – said it was in touch with some of the PDF MLAs.
“Though we had differences with the BSP but in a bid to maintain (the) high standards of democracy I have requested BSP legislators (to stand with BJP),” the party’s state president Ajay Bhatt told HT. He, however, added that barring the BSP the party has not contacted “anyone else”.
The lone UKD MLA has yet not cleared his position and is not “reachable”.
Though the three independents MLAs backed Rawat throughout the crisis but one of them,
Mantri Prasad Naithani is close to BJP leader Satpal Maharaj and could switch side at the last moment. Naithani was not available for comment.