The Bharatiya Janata Party is having a hard time cobbling together numbers to stake claim to the Uttarakhand assembly where it needs at least four more legislators to support it to form the government.
The party’s fate hinges on what the Nainital high court will decide on Saturday when it hears the pleas of nine disqualified Congress MLAs. These rebel MLAs have revolted against deposed chief minister Harish Rawat and are currently on the BJP’s side.
“If their disqualification is set aside, we will have an upper hand in the assembly of 71 MLAs,” a BJP leader said. Else, the effective strength of the house would come down to 62, where the BJP (27 MLAs) will be four short of the magic figure.
BJP is seeking support of the Progressive Democratic Front that includes Independents (3), Bahujan Samaj Party (2), and Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (1).
BJP leaders admit that Rawat has an upper hand at the moment and they have not been able to secure the support of four other legislators. “We are working this out,” a BJP leader said, adding that party leader Satpal Maharaj, also a spiritual leader, is approaching his “friends” in the PDF and the Congress.
Maharaj is a former Congress MP and nurses chief ministerial ambition. But with Lok Sabha member Bhagwat Singh Koshyari as BJP’s first choice for the CM’s post, Maharaj appears to be getting cold feet.
The BJP dismissed the Congress charge that it engineered trouble in Uttarakhand. “If your former CM (Vijay Bahuguna) and leader of opposition for five years (Harak Singh Rawat) are not being able to live with you, you blame BJP for it,” BJP spokesman Sudhanshu Trivedi said.
Citing examples of Sharad Pawar, ND Tiwari and Arjun Singh, the BJP leader said the opposition gets divided every time it gets out of power.