Still with Congress, haven’t unified with BJP: Uttarakhand rebel-MLAs
At a hearing in Uttarakhand HC after their disqualification, the 9 rogue Congress MLAs clarified their stance today. The legislators told the court that "they continue to support" the Congress party and have not unified with BJP. They said that they wanted the Congress to form a government with another CM. They said intra-party dissent was no ground for disqualification under the anti-defection law.
During the Budget Session in Uttarakhand, Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal denied the call for 'division of votes' on the Budget debate. A dharna in the well of the House by BJP and rebel Congress MLAs ensued. However, the Speaker declared the passage of the Budget by voice vote and dismissed the House until March 28 before departing in the middle of the din.
The Congress government in Uttarakhand was threatened as 27 BJP legislators met the state governor KK Paul with the intention to form the government. 9 rebel legislators joined including former Chief Minister Vijay Bahugana and cabinet minister Harak Singh Rawat joined them. CM Rawat however, maintained there was no threat to his government and that the Uttarakhand Congress was "ready to prove our majority."
Having met with governor KK Paul seeking the dismissal of the Harish Rawat-led Congress Government, 26 BJP MLAs, along with Congress'9 rebel Congress MLAs reached Delhi. The ministers are likely to meet BJP President Amit Shah. BJP leader Ajay Bhatt stated that the party would stake "claim to form a government after the Governor dismisses the present government."
In Uttarakhand, the Congress has 36 MLAs in a House of 70 (6 of Progressive Democratic Front-formed by two BSP MLAs, 3 Independents and 1 UKD MLA). With 9 Bahuguna-led MLAs going to BJP (which has 28 MLAs), BJP will get the much-needed majority.
Uttarakhand speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal has issued notices to nine rebel Congress MLAs asking them why they should not be disqualified from the membership of the House. The MLAs stand accused of violating the party principles and aligning with opposition BJP. The BJP claimed that 35 MLAs had already given notice for a no-confidence motion against the speaker to the Vidhan Sabha Secretary.
The Uttarakhand HC rejected the petition filed by the rebel Congress MLAs which challenged the notice given to them by Assembly speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal. The speaker had given a notice to the rebel ministers questioning their transit to join BJP legislators on March 18. The 9 rebel MLAs had filed a petition in the HC disputing the show-cause notice.
Uttarakhand was brought under President's rule by the Centre on grounds of "breakdown of governance" in a controversial decision which comes in the wake of a political crisis in the state. President Pranab Mukherjee signed the proclamation under Art 356 of the Constitution dismissing the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat. The Congress denounced the decision calling it a "murder of democracy."
The Congress Party is to move the Uttarakhand High Court against the imposition of President's rule in the state. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of hatching a conspiracy against Congress ruled states. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat has written to Uttarakhand Governor KK Paul requesting him to let his government prove their majority in Assembly.
Uttarakhand HC nullified the President's Rule in Uttarakhand. It opined that the Centre had acted in 'blatant falsehood' and also denounced the Uttarakhand Speaker of "double standards'." The HC ordered a floor-test in the Assembly on 29 April. Moreover, the 9 dissident Congress MLAs were disqualified for the 'constitutional sin' of defection. The status quo being restored, the Rawat government is back in power.
On 22 April 2016 after SC revoked the President's rule in Uttarakhand, a petition was filed in Uttarakhand HC by the 9 Congress MLAs who were disqualified and disallowed from participating in the floor test scheduled for April 29.