President’s rule imposed in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand was on Sunday 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 triggered by a rebellion in the ruling Congress.
President Pranab Mukherjee signed the proclamation under Art 356 of the Constitution dismissing the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat and placing the Assembly under suspended animation on Sunday morning on the recommendation of the Union Cabinet.
The Cabinet had held an emergency meeting on Saturday night presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had cut short a visit to Assam to return to the capital for the purpose.
The Cabinet considered several reports received from Governor K.K. Paul, who had described the political situation as volatile and expressed apprehensions over possible pandemonium during the scheduled trial of strength in the State Assembly on Monday.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is believed to have briefed the President late Saturday night explaining the rationale for the Cabinet’s recommendation.
The dismissal of the Rawat government now renders Monday’s confidence vote infructuous.
It also came amidst reports that Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal had disqualified nine rebel Congress MLAs that would have enabled Mr. Rawat to sail through in the trust vote.
The Congress denounced the decision calling it a “murder of democracy” and said it showed that BJP did not believe in democracy.
The political crisis in the state arose after the controversial circumstances in which the Appropriation Bill was declared passed in the Assembly by the Speaker with the BJP and the rebel Congress claiming that a division of votes pressed by them was not allowed.
They alleged that the Bill was defeated in the voice vote by a majority of the members present but the Speaker did not test it in a proper division of votes.
The opposition claimed that it had a majority of 35 MLAs, including 9 rebels, in the House that day out of 67 MLAs present. The BJP said the 35 MLAs had written to the Speaker in advance that they would be voting against the bill but the Speaker had refused to take it into his consideration.
On Saturday night, the Union Cabinet met amidst reports that the Speaker had disqualified the rebel Congress MLAs that would would have helped the beleaguered government.
BJP behind move, says Rawat
Mr. Rawat condemned imposition of President’s rule, alleging that the BJP-led central government was after his government since day one.
“It had become evident since (Saturday). They had been threatening the Uttarakhad government and the State Governor,” Mr. Rawat told reporters Dehradun.
The BJP-led central government was after my government blood from day one, the Congress leader said.
‘Textbook example of breakdown of governance’
Earlier in the day, Mr. Jaitley told PTI that the political situation in Uttarakhand was a “textbook example of breakdown of governance” while emphasising that the Constitution provided for “many options” to the Centre.
Mr. Jaitley also listed the grounds which amounted to a constitutional breakdown in the Congress-ruled State.
He said that the Appropriation Bill was declared passed by the Speaker in the Assembly on March 18, 2016 when 35 MLAs out of 67 had written to him in advance that they would be voting against it.
On the floor of the House these MLAs insisted on a division but the Speaker declared it passed by a voice vote when actually only 32 of the 67 present members supported it.
In a House of 71, three were absent.
“In 68 years of Indian democracy, such an incident has not happened. I don’t think there has been a greater subversion of parliamentary system in India than this,” he told PTI, putting the blame squarely on the Congress for the present crisis.
The rebel group of the Congress in Uttarakhand on Sunday welcomed the imposition of President’s Rule in the hill state and justified their actions, saying that what they did was for the people of the state.
Congress rebels welcome President’s rule
Former Chief Minister and leader of the rebel group Vijay Bahuguna on Sunday welcomed the development, saying the Centre was forced to take this decision because there was “murder of democracy” in the State.
He added the State was in the grip of mafias and there was high-level corruption in excise and other government departments.
“I welcome the step. I am sure that probe would be held on corruption charges against the Harish Rawat government,” he told IANS.
Mr. Bahuguna, however, was of the view that the central rule should not be in force for a long period.
Satpal Maharaj, senior BJP leader from Uttarakhand, welcomed the imposition of President’s rule and said the sting operation against Mr. Rawat was the last nail in the coffin of the Congress government in the State.
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