Governor gives CM Rawat time till March 28 to prove majority
In a big relief to the embattled Harish Rawat-led Congress government in Uttarkhand, governor KK Paul has given it time till March 28 to prove its majority on the floor of House. The announcement came after Rawat met Paul on Saturday.
The four-year-old government came under threat on Friday when rebel Congress MLAs, led by former CM Vijay Bahuguna, raised banner of revolt and joined BJP in the assembly in demanding a division of votes amid chaos on the state’s annual budget.
The governor’s decision caused heartburn to the BJP leaders, many of whom believed there was no need to give so much time to Rawat. Leader of Opposition in assembly Ajay Bhatt said, “It is a clear case for dismissal of government. The (breakaway) Congress MLAs had given in writing that they were against the Rawat government. I think the governor has given them too much time to prove their majority. But everything we will be fine.”
Meanwhile, sources in state law department said that assembly speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal may issue show-cause notices to all nine Congress rebel legislators asking them why appropriate action against them for violating anti-defection law should not be taken. According to legislative experts, under the anti-defection law, it is mandatory for rebel Congress MLAs to have 2/3rd strength of the total 37 MLAs (majority of 36 in 70-member House plus 1 nominated member) to help them cross over to BJP legislative party without being governed by the anti-defection law.
Nine rebel Congress MLAs are in Delhi and were in touch with BJP leaders, he said.
On Friday night, a three-member BJP delegation of former chief minister and MP Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, Jaju and general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya met governor Paul after the simmering discontent within a section of Congress legislature came to the fore on a day of fast-paced developments in the hill state. Rebel Congress MLAs led by Rawat’s bete noire Bahuguna have been expressing their resentment against the state government for some time.
The rebel MLAs included, the Congress has a strength of 36 MLAs in the 70-member Assembly. The ruling party also has the support of six members of the Progressive Democratic Front. The BJP has 28 MLAs.
Earlier in the day, the BJP said it has a majority in the Uttarakhand assembly and should be invited to form a government as the incumbent Congress dispensation was reduced to a minority.
“The Harish Rawat government has lost majority. Today, the BJP has the numbers with the support of rebel Congress MLAs to form a new government in Uttarakhand,” Shyam Jaju, State in-charge of BJP, told reporters in New Delhi. Jaju said the party was willing to present the MLAs whose support it enjoyed before President Pranab Mukherjee and insisted that Rawat should immediately resign given the loss of majority.