In a new turn to the political situation in Uttarakhand where President’s rule was imposed Sunday, the Uttarakhand High Court Tuesday ordered a floor test in the assembly on March 31. The Harish Rawat-led Congress government was dislodged and the 70-member House — the 71st is a nominated member — placed in suspended animation after nine Congress rebel MLAs joined hands with 28 MLAs of the opposition BJP, plunging the state into crisis.
On Monday, Rawat paraded 34 MLAs before Governor K K Paul to claim he still had the numbers to lead a stable government. Lawyer and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who appeared for Rawat in the High Court, told reporters that all MLAs, including the nine Congress rebels, can participate in the trial of strength but the votes of the disqualified legislators will be kept separate. They will be taken into account subject to the final outcome of the writ petition filed by Rawat challenging imposition of President’s rule, he said.
In Dehradun, there was lack of clarity on whether the High Court direction for a floor test meant that President’s rule had been stayed and the Rawat government restored.
The Congress indicated it will seek legal opinion on the issue of voting by the nine disqualified MLAs. Welcoming the High Court decision, Rawat said it was a “tremendous setback” for the Centre which had “denied” him an opportunity to prove his majority on the floor of the House. “The Congress and our government have full respect for the judiciary. We still do not have the full judgment of the High Court but the part of the order available shows that the court holds the Centre’s decision wrong,” he told reporters.