All eyes on PDF MLAs in Uttarakhand

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New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) With the Supreme Court on Monday giving no relief to nine disqualified rebel Congress legislators in Uttarakhand, the fate of ousted chief minister Harish Rawat’s government now hinges on the six members of the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) in the state.

The Uttarakhand High Court had on Monday dismissed the plea of the nine rebel Congress legislators challenging assembly speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal’s decision to expel them from the house.

They will hence not be able to vote during the floor test slated for Tuesday.

The PDF — comprising two Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislators, one from Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) and three Independents — has been supporting the Congress government in the state since its formation in 2012.

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The Congress had 36 members in the 70-member assembly which also has one nominated lawmaker from the Anglo-Indian community. The party was left with 28 legislators, including the nominated one, after the nine MLAs rebelled against the party leadership.

The nominated member can vote in the assembly.

Now, with the assembly’s effective strength coming down to 62, a simple majority of 32 MLAs will see the state government continue.

The BJP, with 28 members, including one suspended member Bhimlal Arya, is also eyeing PDF legislators.

In another development, the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttarakhand announced unconditionally support to the BSP in the Haridwar panchayat polls, a move seen as an effort to garner BSP support for Tuesday’s floor test.

On their part, the two BSP legislators in Uttarakhand said they were waiting for a final decision from their leader Mayawati.

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“We are awaiting the decision of Behanji. We will abide by it,” said one BSP legislator.

BJP leaders in Uttarkhand are also in touch with some Congress legislators said to be unhappy with Rawat. BJP leaders Satpal Maharaj and Bhagat Singh Koshyari are playing a crucial role in this, party sources said.

A BJP leader told IANS on the conditions of anonymity that after the Supreme Court not giving any relief to the expelled Congress MLAs, the BJP’s focus is now on stopping Rawat from achieving the magic figure of 32 during the floor test.

BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said: “We respect the Supreme Court. We will follow whatever it has said. But I still say that the Harish Rawat government was in a minority yesterday, even today and will remain so tomorrow as well.”

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