It also ruled that nine rebel legislators of the Congress will not be allowed to vote in Tuesday’s floor test as they were disqualified by the Speaker of the Assembly. In the event of their disqualification, the Harish Rawat government will have to prove the support of only 31 legislators as the strength of the 70-member house will come down to 61.
But the rebel Congress legislators have challenged the Speaker’s decision in the Uttarakhand High Court. If the court rules in their favour on Saturday, they can vote on May 10. Uttarakhand plunged into a political crisis when nine Congress legislators, including former Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, revolted against the Chief Minister and turned to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for support. And this rebellion played itself out during voting on the Congress-led government’s Appropriation Bill.
But matters escalated on March 27 after it was brought under President’s rule. The Centre reasoned that a “breakdown of constitutional machinery” had precipitated its decision to impose President’s rule. But the NDA government stands accused of constitutional impropriety primarily because Governor Dr. KK Paul had given Chief Minister Harish Rawat time until the next day (March 28) to prove his government’s majority on the floor of the Legislative Assembly. Considering the nature of the crisis, one could reasonably argue for the imposition of Article 356.
But the court’s decision to go ahead with the floor test on May 10 has cast serious aspersions on the Centre’s motives behind its initial decision to impose President’s rule. But this is not the end of the current political saga in Uttarakhand. The CBI on Thursday summoned ousted Chief Minister Harish Rawat for questioning in connection with its inquiry into a sting operation related to alleged attempts at bribing Congress dissidents to return to the party fold.