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Armed with Uttarakhand HC order, Congress draws Parliament battlelines

Uttarakhand crisis: "This is also a slap on the face of those in BJP who sought to dislodge an elected government..," said the Congress.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi |
Updated: April 22, 2016 6:17:08 pm
uttarakhand, uttarakhand verdict, uttarakhand high court, uttarakhand hc verdict, president's rule, president's rule uttarakhand, uttarakhand news, india news Harish Rawat in Dehradun, Thursday. (Express photo by Virender Singh Negi)

The Uttarakhand High Court’s order has come as a shot in the arm for the Congress, just days ahead of the Parliament session which begins on Monday. Seeking to corner the government on the issue, the Congress is in touch with other opposition parties to formulate a joint strategy.

Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma today submitted a motion stating “that this House deplores destabilisation of the democratically elected government in the state of Uttarakhand and disapproves the unjustified imposition of President’s rule under Article 356 of the Constitution”. He has sought a discussion on the first day of the session itself, suspending all other business.

Watch: CM Harish Rawat On SC’s Stay On Uttarakhand HC’s Order On President’s Rule

While the Congress said the Centre’s “brazen abuse of authority” has been exposed, the Left called it a “slap on the face of the Narendra Modi government.”

 

“Modi government’s blatant power grab fails. Democracy wins… Modiji, while you attack the Constitution, destroy institutions and undermine democracy, please remember people of Uttarakhand and entire country are watching,” tweeted Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

Congress leaders said the party would work with other parties to “reject” the appropriation Bill for Uttarakhand.

“The issue will definitely be raised in Parliament,” said senior CPI leader D Raja. Sources in the JD(U) said the party also plans to raise the issue in Parliament.

The Congress believes that at some stage, the government will have to inform Parliament about imposition of President’s Rule. “If the government seeks Parliament’s approval, rest assured that it will be rejected in the Rajya Sabha,” a senior Congress leader told The Indian Express.

Sensing that the government would challenge the high court verdict in the Supreme Court, Harish Rawat’s counsel Abhishek Singhvi filed a caveat in the apex court.

“It is a vindication of the truth. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government stand exposed for the brazen abuse of authority, destabilising democratically elected governments and also using resources at their disposal to allure legislators and encourage horsetrading. The verdict also makes it clear that the central government has misused Article 356. The Prime Minister, his party and the RSS have mastered the art of doublespeak and double standards… The Uttarakhand development has condemned them,” Sharma told The Indian Express.

Singhvi, who argued for Rawat in the high court, said: “We are confident that this deplorable process of devaluing and destroying federalism and democracy will be arrested by this judgement… Those looking at Himachal Pradesh, Manipur or other states with greedy eyes must learn to control their greed and must realise that power is available only through democratic means and not through misuse of Article 356.”

He said the Uttarakhand Governor had sent three messages in writing after March 18, saying the floor test was scheduled for March 28. And the Chief Minister wrote back saying he agreed with the suggestion.

“Despite that, President’s Rule was imposed. The Governor also wrote eight reports, between March 18 and March 26. He discussed the Speaker’s role, the proceedings on the floor and the appropriation Bill, the so-called sting… not once he did the two things required… he never said there is failure of the constitutional machinery and he never said he therefore recommends President’s Rule,” said Singhvi.

Calling it a landmark judgement, the CPI(M) said it was “a slap on the face of the BJP-led Narendra Modi government which resorted to such an undemocratic and anti-Constitutional step in Uttarakhand” and demanded that accountability be fixed.

“Unable to form governments in states through people’s mandate in assembly elections, the BJP is resorting to such a subterfuge. In this instance, those responsible for such an undemocratic exercise in Uttarakhand must be brought to book. Accountability is the hallmark of democracy,” said the party.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury asked whether “the BJP has it in itself to make heads (of those responsible) roll?”

CPI national secretary D Raja too called the verdict a slap on the face of the BJP government, which, he said, “tried everything to subvert and undermine the Constitution and parliamentary practices.”

“They did not allow a floor test. After the S R Bommai judgement, things are very clear. The strength of the government has to tested on the floor. They did not allow this. It shows the authoritarian mindset of the BJP government…They have no constitutional morality. On one side, they try to appropriate B R Ambedkar, and on the other side, they undermine Ambedkar who had said that Article 356 should remain a dead letter in normal circumstances… what was extraordinary or abnormal in Uttarakhand,” Raja said.

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