What’s next as Congress, BJP slug it out in Uttarakhand?

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 28, 2016 11:11 IST
Uttrakhand chief minister Harish Rawat addressing a press conference in Dehradun on Sunday. (PTI Photo)

The Centre’s decision to impose President’s Rule in Uttarakhand on Sunday has turned the state into a political battleground.

The decision came a day before the Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat was to prove his majority in the assembly.

The Congress condemned the decision as a “murder of democracy”, and said that a clear pattern of the BJP engineering legislative splits in Congress-led state was emerging,noting the similarities between the current political crisis and the run up to their government in Arunachal Pradesh being toppled earlier this year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi cut short his Assam elections tour for an emergency cabinet meeting which advocated the adoption of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand.

Read: Prez rule in Uttarakhand: Governor’s report on sting op tilted scales

The decision was taken after the sting operation against Rawat and allegations that the CM had indulged in horse-trading to save his government.

A question of timing

For the BJP, timing is the key to their political aspirations in the state. The party claims that they are supported by the nine rebel Congress MLAs, which gives them the right to stake a claim to government.

Bhagat Singh Koshyari, the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttarakhand, addresses the press conference in New Delhi. (Virendra Singh Gosain/ HT Photo)

There is a dispute, however, over when the rebel MLAs were disqualified by the Speaker of the Assembly. If the order came in before President’s rule was imposed, they stand disqualified. This in turn brings down the majority mark to 31 in a reduced House of 61; so the BJP could potentially form a government with the support of just 6 PDF MLAs.

However, the disqualification will not stand if it was ordered after the imposition of President’s rule; if that is the case, then the BJP will need the 9 rebels as well to form a government.

Read: All you need to know about President’s rule in Uttarakhand

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi slammed the government’s decision, tweeting “Modiji don’t let your love of power overrule ppl’s mandate. @INCIndia is ready-fight elections, seek ppl’s mandate, don’t usurp their right.”

Rawat also condemned the Centre’s decision to invoke ARticle 356, saying that it “is a murder of democracy and the Constitution. Modi’s hands are dipped in the blood of the trampled aspirations of the people of Uttarakhand...”

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, however, dismissed the CM’s statement, saying that “for the last nine days, every day provisions of the Constitution are being murdered.”

The BJP has said that they may attempt to form a government if they get the green-light from the party’s central parliamentary board.

Read: Congress to move court against imposition of Prez rule in Uttarakhand

Congress has, in the meantime, said that it will challenge the Centre’s decision in the Supreme Court.

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