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U’khand: Cong, BJP face challenge of keeping their flock together

U’khand: Cong, BJP face challenge of keeping their flock together
Amid continuing political uncertainty in Uttarakhand, the High Court’s stay on a floor test in the state 
Assembly till April 7 has only added to the worries of both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which face the challenge of keeping their flock together for yet another week.

With the Centre’s petition, seeking review of the High Court’s interim order for a floor test in the state Assembly posted for resumed hearing on April 6, central leaders of both the parties are grappling with the task of keeping their numbers intact.

BJP’s Shyam Jaju and Kailash Vijayvargiya and Congress’ Ambika Soni and Sanjay Kapoor who arrived here on Wednesday - a day ahead of the crucial floor test originally slated for Thursday - have held closed-door confabulations with party functionaries to keep their ranks together and maintain cohesion among their MLAs to meet any challenge which may lie ahead.

While Soni and Kapoor left on Thursday, after holding detailed meetings with party MLAs and leaders, including deposed CM Harish Rawat and Pradesh party president Kishore Upadhyay at undisclosed venues to discuss ways to keep their house in order, Jaju and Vijayvargiya kept themselves closeted with their MLAs in a hotel somewhere on the outskirts of the city to ward off the possibility of poaching.

“Ambika ji and Sanjay Kapoor left today after meeting party leaders and MLAs but they will come back again to oversee things as the date of next hearing by the High Court approaches,” chief spokesman of Pradesh Congress, Mathuradutt Joshi told PTI.

In the changed political scenario in the state, each and every member is important in the Assembly with an effective strength of 70.

Both Congress and BJP are burning midnight oil to prevent the possibility of a dent in their fortresses. With the nine rebel MLAs breaking away, Congress is left with 27 of its own and is supported by the six-member Progressive Democratic Front, taking its number to 33 in the state assembly.

The BJP on the other hand has 27 MLAs of its own and nine rebel legislators of Congress who have been disqualified by the Speaker. The rebels had gone to the court challenging the validity of the Speaker’s action on the ground that it came after imposition of President’s rule which puts the Assembly under suspended animation.

If Uttarakhand high court, which is slated to hear the petition challenging their disqualification tomorrow, revokes their suspension, 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 a House of 70. The BJP also hopes that nearly half a dozen more Congress MLAs loyal to former party veteran Satpal Maharaj, who is now with BJP, may cross over to its side to further bolster its chances in case of a floor test.

Both BJP and Congress began their efforts to keep their flocks together soon after trouble erupted in Uttarakhand Assembly on the evening of March 18, when nine Congress MLAs and BJP members joined hands and demanded a division of votes on the Appropriation Bill which was turned down by the Speaker. All BJP MLAs and nine rebel legislators of Congress together flew to Delhi the same night on a chartered plane.

Congress also adopted the same strategy and herded all MLAs in its camp in a resort near Ramnagar in Nainital district. When Governor KK Paul asked Harish Rawat to go for a floor test on March 28, MLAs of both camps came back to Dehradun on March 27. However, President’s rule was imposed in the state the same day and the Assembly was kept under suspended animation.
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