Arya Sharma/Catch News
The political turmoil in Uttarakhand got heightened as the state was placed under President's Rule on Sunday, a day before Chief Minister Harish Rawat was to prove his majority.
This brought back the memory of Arunachal Pradesh, which recently was under President's Rule after a similar revolt by several Congress legislators against former CM Nabam Tuki.
President Pranab Mukherjee gave the go-ahead to use Article 356 in the hilly state after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley briefed him about the complete "breakdown in governance" in the state and conveyed to him the Union Cabinet's recommendation of proclaiming Article 356, sources said.
On Saturday night, there was an emergency meeting of the Cabinet night after Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal expelled nine rebel Congress legislators. That brought down the total number of members in the House to 61, which could have made it possible for Rawat to sail through the Floor test with the support of 32 MLAs.
Sources claimed Uttarakhand Governor KK Paul's report on the volatile political situation in the state too was discussed at length by the Cabinet.
Rawat earlier condemned the threat by the NDA government and said an imposition of President's Rule would be a murder of democracy. "The Centre is threatening a small state like Uttarakhand with President's Rule. It is not acceptable in a parliamentary system. There is a procedure for President's Rule, which has emerged following precedence," he said.
It is not, of course only about Rawat alone. The Congress, as a national-level political party, has big stakes involved, especially after its government fell in Arunachal.
The rebels on Saturday released a sting operation, according to which Rawat allegedly took to 'horse trading'. The Bharatiya Janata Party then submitted a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee, criticising the role of Governor KK Paul
The grand old party dismissed the sting as a fake and blamed Modi and BJP President Amit Shah for engineering the Uttarakhand crisis.
While CM Rawat called the sting "fabricated", party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said "after the court's decision... the BJP is now resorting to dirty politics of releasing a fake sting to defame the state government."
He was referring to the setback that the rebels, including former CM Vijay Bahuguna, suffered at the Uttarakhand High Court, which rejected their petition to reverse Kunjwal's earlier show-cause notice to them.
According to a senior Congress leader, the party would no more try to bring the rebels back into its fold after a series of failed efforts. The leader was part of a delegation of Uttarakhand Congress that updated party President Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi about the crisis.
Rebel Congress leader blamed the party for the mess: "For the last two years, we have had no Congress Legislative Party meeting in the state. State-in-charge Ambika Soni knew that we wanted a reshuffle but she just couldn't handle the situation," said rebel leader Bahuguna. He blamed the party high command for distancing itself from dissenting voices.
He too had requested Mukherjee to impose Article 356 in Uttarakhand and call for fresh elections as Rawat had no right to continue as CM.
"If the chief minister has any doubts about the authenticity of the (sting) video, he should ask for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation. I would have done that."
According to the rebels, the sting proves Rawat offering up to Rs 5 crore to the rebels and ministerial berths to some of them.
The chief Opposition party in Uttarakhand took an aggressive stand and said Governor Paul did not heed the request of the majority in the House when he gave the CM 10 days to prove majority. That much time gave Rawat an opportunity to indulge in "illegal unconstitutional practices, including horse trading".
"We told the President that after the sting, the state government has no right to continue in power even for a minute. You should take necessary action and impose President's Rule," BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya told reporters.
Edited by Joyjeet Das