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BJP’s Uttarakhand gameplan: Won’t stake claim, will go for fresh Assembly polls

A BJP veteran said that the Centre’s move was prompted by the realisation that the Harish Rawat government had lost its majority.

Written by Sheela Bhatt | New Delhi | Updated: March 28, 2016 10:23:48 am
Dehradun: Chief Minister Harish Rawat addresses a press conference in Dehradun on Saturday. PTI Photo (PTI3_26_2016_000081B) Dehradun: Chief Minister Harish Rawat addresses a press conference in Dehradun on Saturday. (Source: PTI Photo)

The BJP is not interested in staking a claim to form the government in Uttarakhand and would prefer to go for elections, a senior party leader told The Indian Express. “The BJP is absolutely confident that it has done no wrong, ethically or legally. We want elections so that we can go to the people and let them decide on our actions,” said the BJP leader who was involved in the decision-making process that led to the imposition of President’s Rule in Congress-ruled Uttarakhand.

Asked about the Congress’s threat of approaching the court, the leader, who did not wish to be named, said, “We are not worried. We are confident and all set to respond to the Congress in the court of law. Let everybody know we have done our homework. Whatever was necessary was done before the government evoked Article 356. In the last four days, a lot has happened that the media was unaware off.”

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The BJP veteran said that the Centre’s move was prompted by the realisation that the Harish Rawat government had lost its majority. “The Congress has said on record that nine rebels went against the party line on March 18, when they claim to have passed the money Bill.The action of sending notices to the rebel Congressmen automatically proves that the Uttarakhand government had lost a majority. They were totally unethical to remain in power after losing the majority,” he said.

Elaborating on the BJP’s main argument, the leader said, “On March 18, 35 BJP and Congress rebels paraded themselves before Governor K K Paul, a video recording was done and it was given in writing that Chief Minister Rawat had lost the majority while passing the money Bill. When a government loses its majority in passing the Budget, it loses power. That event itself fully justifies the evoking of Article 356.”

On the video of a purported sting operation showing Rawat allegedly indulging in “horse-trading” to save his government, the BJP leader said the Centre had sent the tape to a forensic laboratory and obtained a certified report on its authenticity.

President Pranab Mukherjee was briefed, meanwhile, and Governor Paul’s report obtained which highlighted the delicate situation in the state and warned that the March 28 deadline for proving the government’s majority would create tension between the warring parties, said the leader.

Asked about the landmark Supreme Court judgment in the S R Bommai case, which specified that the status of any government’s majority should be decided on the floor of the House, the BJP leader said, “The same judgment claims that if the situation leads to horse-trading, the Centre can use Article 356, along with other conditions. Also, in that era, nobody envisaged the lowering of the level of the Speaker’s post.”

The leader also dismissed suggestions that using Article 356 in Uttarakhand two months after President’s rule was declared in Arunachal Pradesh had created a negative impression about the NDA government. “One, in Uttarakhand, the BJP or the Narendra Modi government has done nothing to form the government. Two, these nine rebels are against CM Rawat. They are not with us, they had an agenda of their own. Three, the rule says if 10 per cent of MLAs demand voting on any Bill, the Speaker is bound to agree. Here, more than 50 per cent of MLAs wanted it but still, the Speaker didn’t allow it because the government would have lost power inside the House, right there and then. We are on a strong moral ground in invoking Article 356,” he said.

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