Uttarakhand Government on unstable grounds
9 Cong MLAs rebel, BJP leaders meet Governor
The Harish Rawat-led Congress government in Uttarakhand is in danger of losing majority with nine Congress legislators rebelling against it. Meanwhile, senior BJP leaders, including party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, arrived in Dehradun this morning.
Satpal Maharaj, who quit the Congress to join the BJP after Rawat was given the reins of the state replacing Vijay Bahuguna prior to the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, had claimed two days ago that several Congress MLAs were in touch with the BJP.
The drama unfolded during the passage of the annual Budget in the Assembly in the evening with the nine Congress legislators, led by former Chief Minister Bahauguna and Agriculture Minister Harak Singh Rawat, on their feet, demanding a division of votes on the Budget. However, Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal rejected the demand.
The rebel Congress legislators trooped into the well of the House, raising slogans to press for division of votes, claiming that they wanted to vote against the Budget.
Amid the chaos, Agriculture Minister Rawat had a scuffle with Education Minister Mantri Prasad Naithani. The Speaker got the Budget passed by voice vote amid sloganeering and adjourned the House till March 28.
The Harish Rawat led Uttarakhand government faced a serious crisis, and was in real danger of losing power when a group of rebel Congress MLAs joined hands with the BJP in its bid to defeat the state government’s efforts to get budget passed in the House.
This alone could have led to fall of the government as the state can’t run without authorization by the assembly to take money out of Consolidated Fund.
Soon after the budget was passed by the voice vote, a group of rebels led by former chief minister Vijay Bhahuguna Haraksingh Rawat and others Ambika Rawat, Umesh Kaw, Shaila Rani Rawat and Subosh Uniyal announced that they had broken away from the Congress and sought a division of votes.
The Agriculture Minister, who had been in the forefront of the rebellion alleged that the Chief Minister Harish Rawat has lost majority in the house as the effective strength of the house today was 67 legislators and 34 legislators have voted against the money bill.
He said Chief Minister Harish Rawat was single-handedly running the Uttarakhand government and there was widespread corruption in every deal, including excise and mining operations. He claimed that nine Congress MLAs, including Vijay Bahuguna, Shaila Rani Rawat, Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion, Pradeep Batra, Amrita Rawat, Subodh Uniyal Umesh Sharma and Shailendra Mohan Singhal, have withdrawn support to the Chief Minister.
On the other hand, Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal claimed that there was no danger to the government and the budget has been passed. In the last state Assembly poll, the Congress had won 33 seats while the BJP won 32 seats. However, the Congress formed the government with the support of three BSP, three independents and the lone Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) legislators. This congolomerate of seven legislators was known as United Democratic Front (UDF). Later, with the quitting of a BJP MLA from house prompted by Congress and defeat of three other assembly segments in bye-elections in 2014, the ruling Congress gained a majority of its own with 36 legislators. The BJP was reduced to 28.
The incident of injury to a police horse allegedly by the Mussoorie MLA has put the party in bad light, probably prompting the party leadership to effectuate their game plan to topple the Congress -led government.