Uttarakhand: Congress moves court,Jaitley defends central rule (Roundup)

Dehradun/New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) The political crisis in Uttarakhand showed no signs of ending with the Congress party moving the state high court on Monday against imposition of President’s Rule as BJP leader and union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley justified central rule, saying the Congress government was “murdering democracy”.

Meanwhile, a delegation led by ousted chief minister Harish Rawat met Governor K.K. Paul to protest against imposition of central rule in the hill state.

Justice U.C. Dhyani of the Uttarakhand High Court has begun hearing a petition filed by the Congress against imposition of President’s Rule. The petition has been moved by senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

“We have come to show our strength and protest against the decision taken against our government,” Congress’ Bajpur legislator Yashpal Arya said after party MLAs led by Rawat met the governor.

He said the Rawat government should have been given time to prove its majority.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators from Uttarakhand thanked President Pranab Mukherjee for imposing central rule.

President’s Rule was clamped on the state on Sunday, a day before Rawat was to seek a floor test in the assembly to prove he had the numbers.

The Uttarakhand assembly has been kept in suspended animation with the proclamation of President’s Rule under Article 356 of the Constitution.

The Congress party has termed the move a “murder of democracy”.

Meanwhile, over two dozen BJP legislators arrived in Dehradun to a grand welcome at the Jolly Grant airport on Monday.

Hundreds of BJP activists gathered at the airport exit to welcome the legislators, showering flowers and raising slogans.

The BJP MLAs had been camping in Jaipur, Gurgaon and New Delhi for the last one week, to avoid contact with the beleaguered Rawat camp and chances of horse trading since the political crisis erupted in the hill state.

State BJP president Teerath Singh Rawat said after his arrival that the state unit was thankful to President Mukherjee for signing the proclamation of central rule.

“We are very thankful to Rashtrapatiji that he acted as the true custodian of the constitution,” he said.

Other BJP legislators targeted Rawat for drawing Prime Minister Narendra Modi into the issue and said he was doing so only to deflect attention from his failures, poor governance and corruption.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley justified imposition of President’s rule, saying Rawat should have quit as chief minister after failure of the Appropriation Bill.

In a Facebook post titled ‘A State without a Budget’, Jaitley wrote: “This leaves the State without any approved financial expenditure with effect from 1 April, 2016. What better evidence do we need of a breakdown of Constitution? The Congress government of Uttarakhand was murdering democracy every day from the 18 March till 27 March.

“Having plunged the state into a serious constitutional crisis by continuing a government which should have quit after the failure of the Appropriation Bill, and further complicating the crisis, the chief minister started allurement, horse-trading and disqualification with a view to altering the composition of the house,” Jaitley said.

He also criticised Uttarakhand assembly Speaker Govind Kunjwal for suspending rebel Congress legislators.

Terming this move of the speaker as unprecedented, Jaitley said, “This leaves the state without any approved financial expenditure with effect from April 1. What better evidence do we need of a breakdown of the Constitution?”

“It is now incumbent upon the central government to ensure that steps are taken under Article 357 to authorise expenditure of the state with effect from April 1,” he said.

Jaitley said there are strong facts to suggest that the Appropriation Bill was actually defeated and as a consequence, the government had to resign.

The crisis in the hill state erupted on March 18 when nine Congress MLAs rebelled against Rawat’s government, resulting in flip-flop in the passage of the Appropriation Bill. The BJP met the governor that day and staked claim to form the government.

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