Nine Congress rebels who triggered a political crisis in Uttarakhand emerged from hiding on Thursday and vowed to fight chief minister Harish Rawat in the people’s court, saying they “have come too far away” to return to the party.
Former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, who is leading the rebellion, however, hoped the high court will revoke their suspension and hinted at floating a new party if needed.
“While our assembly membership case will come up for hearing on Friday, we are always prepared to face elections. However, our next course of action will be known to all after consultation with our workers and other friends in the party. You will come to know in the next 3-4 days,” Bahuguna said.
Asked about PCC president Kishor Upadhyay’s claim of being in touch the rebels, Bahuguna said, “I think we have come too far away.”
The crisis erupted on March 18 when nine Congress MLAs backed by the BJP demanded a division of votes during the discussion on the appropriation bill.
The governor asked Rawat to prove majority on the floor of the assembly on March 28 but days before the vote, a sting operation surfaced that purportedly showed the CM offering money to rebels.
Within hours, the speaker disqualified the nine rebels under the anti-defection law.
A day before the scheduled trust vote, the Centre
imposed President’s Rule in the state last Sunday, citing constitutional breakdown.
The Congress is left with 27 MLAs of its own and is supported by the six-member Progressive Democratic Front, taking its number to 33 in the assembly. The BJP, on the other hand, has 27 MLAs of its own besides the nine rebel Congress legislators.
If the Uttarakhand high court revokes their suspension, the BJP will have a definite edge over Congress in event of a floor test as its number will rise to 36, the majority mark in the 70-member House.
The BJP also hopes that nearly half a dozen more Congress MLAs loyal to former party veteran Satpal Maharaj, who is now with the party, may cross over to its side to further bolster its chances.
Bahuguna said the disqualification of the rebels was an unconstitutional decision by the speaker as his powers were seized after President’s rule was imposed.
To a question on forming a separate political outfit or joining the BJP, Bahuguna said, “All options are open.”
Eight of nine rebels gathered at Bahuguna’s residence after reaching Dehradun at around 4.30 pm to interact with
“We will soon meet and discuss (our) next course of action but there is no hope of
going back to the Congress party,” said another rebel leader and former Cabinet minister Harak Singh Rawat.