Nine rebel Congress legislators who triggered Uttarakhand’s political uncertainty by backing the BJP were back in focus on Friday with experts saying the MLAs held the key to winning a trust vote in the state assembly.
The rebels backed the Supreme Court’s decision to block a high court judgment that revoked President’s Rule in Uttarakhand.
The MLAs said the Congress government was reduced to a minority in March when they switched sides during the controversial passage of the state budget.
“The apex court has taken right step. The Harish Rawat government was in minority after 35 MLA’s demanded division of votes on appropriation bill on March 18,” said former Congress minister and rebel MLA Harak Singh Rawat.
The nine have been disqualified from the assembly under the anti-defection law but eight of them have challenged the speaker’s decision in the Uttarakhand high court. The petition will be heard on Saturday.
The rebels say they are watching the “unfolding political developments closely” and won’t give up the fight.
“We will pursue our issue till we get justice. The case is pending before Justice UC Dhyani bench and we are hopeful the decision will come in our favour,” Harak Singh Rawat told HT.
The flamboyant legislator added that they would appeal against any unfavourable decision in the division bench of the high court.
Another MLA Subodh Uniyal hailed the apex court’s decision. On Thursday, he expressed displeasure over the HC decision that set April 29 for Harish Rawat to prove his majority on the floor of the House.
But the next hearing in the Supreme Court is on April 27, indicating that the possibility of a trust vote still exists.
In such a scenario, the rebels will play a crucial role in the 70-member house. The Congress has 36 members – including the nine rebels, and the BJP has 28 – including one rebel. Six other members are said to support the Congress. One nominated member hails from the Anglo-Indian community.
If the rebels are disqualified, the house strength comes down to 61. The Congress – with 27 legislators – may then win the trust vote if the six MLAs – from smaller parties and independents – back it.
The rebel group indicated in the past that they were not opposed to the Congress and wanted Harish Rawat out.
Until recently, Harish Rawat and Congress state president Kishor Upadhyay said they were in touch with five or six rebels but now say talks failed.
“We are no more in touch with rebels. It is not possible for us to accept rebels demand (to remove Harish Rawat as CM candidate),” Upadhyay told HT.
Rebels earlier said they were considering forming a separate political group but the idea appears to have evaporated in the fast-paced political developments over the past few days. “As of now we are not forming any group…let the court’s decision come first,” Harak Singh Rawat said.