New Delhi/Dehradun, May 9 (IANS) A day ahead of the crucial test vote in the Uttarakhand assembly, the Supreme Court on Monday did not accept the plea of nine disqualified rebel Congress legislators to participate, while ousted chief minister Harish Rawat expressed confidence of proving his majority but the BJP reiterated that the Congress did not have a majority.
The Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress also sparred in parliament on Monday over imposition of president’s rule in the state, with Congress members staging a walk out as the Lok Sabha passed the Uttarakhand Appropriation (Vote on Account) Bill, 2016. They termed the move as “unconstitutional” and said the government could have waited till Tuesday.
Rawat, who met media persons in Dehradun, meanwhile sought more time to appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation over allegations that he tried to bribe rebel Congress legislators to gain their support.
Giving no no relief to the rebel Congress lawmakers while issuing notice to Uttarakhand assembly speaker on their plea, a bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh directed the next hearing of the matter on July 12, when it will consider their plea for a stay of Uttarakhand High Court’s decision, pronounced earlier on Monday, dismissing their challenge to their disqualification.
The notice has also been issued to Congress lawmaker Indira Hridayesh on whose complaint Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal had disqualified the nine, led by former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna.
The apex court on Friday cleared the decks for Rawat to prove his majority in the assembly on Tuesday, ordering President’s Rule in the hill state will be kept in abeyance from 10.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the house to conduct its proceedings.
President’s rule was imposed in Uttarakhand on March 27. It was lifted following an Uttarakhand High Court order on April 21 but was reimposed by the Supreme Court a day later.
Taking part in the debate on the Uttarakhand budget in the Lok Sabha, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said slammed the Narendra Modi government on the issue of president’s rule.
“It appears you are the judge, you are the jury and you are the executioner,” he said in reference to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who earlier made a strong case for imposition of President’s Rule under article 356 in the state.
Jaitley said the founding fathers of the constitution envisaged that there should be a “rule by majority and not by manipulated majority” and the government had “three materials (basic reasons)” to act in Uttarakhand.
“Everyone spoke about floor test. But what happens if the speaker of the assembly refuses to take a floor test. And then he manipulates and changes the character of the assembly itself,” he argued.
He said on March 18 the budget “could not be passed by the assembly” and “the state government (of Rawat) should have resigned as the budget had failed”.
Rawat expressed confidence that his party will pass the floor test.
“All the 34 MLAs whom we paraded to the Governor are still with us,” he said.
“It is the BJP who should think from where they would get the rest of six MLAs to prove majority in the house,” Rawat said, adding, “It (BJP) can only prove their majority by indulging in horse trading.”
He also sought more time to appear before the CBI which had summoned him on Monday after it began probing a video that allegedly showed him offering money to rebel Congress lawmakers to win their support.
BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya, however said that the Congress “was in minority, is in minority and will be in minority”.
“We respect the Supreme Court verdict. Now it is up to legislators to decide,” he said.