By Brajendra th Singh
With the Uttarakhand High Court setting aside President's Rule in the state and asking Chief Minister Harish Rawat to prove his majority in the assembly on April 29, the fate of the government now hinges on the members of Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) and the outcome of the case relating to nine rebel Congress legislators.
The PDF — a group of two Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislators, one Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) lawmaker and three independents — has been supporting Congress government in the state since its formation in 2011.
The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday set aside President's Rule in the state, restoring Congress leader Harish Rawat as the chief minister, nearly a month after he was ousted.
The central government moved the Supreme Court on Friday, challenging the high court verdict.
The Rawat government had 36 members in the 70-member state assembly with one nomited lawmaker, and it was reduced to 28 members, including the nomited member, after nine of its legislators rebelled against the party leadership.
The high court in its decision also upheld the disqualification of nine dissident Congress legislators by the assembly Speaker. The nine legislators have decided to move the apex court to seek restoration of their membership or at least get permission to take part the confidence vote.
If the nine rebel legislators are not allowed to vote, the effective strength of the assembly will come down to 61 and the majority figure would come down to 32.
This situation will be in favour of Rawat. But, if the rebel legislators, led by former chief minister Vijay Bahugu, are able to take part in the trust vote, the BJP is likely to have an upper hand.
A writ petition of rebel legislators, challenging the Speaker's decision disqualifying them, is already pending before a single judge bench of the high court.
The matter would come up for hearing in the high court on April 23. The BJP, which has 28 members, including one of its suspended member Bhimlal Arya, is also eyeing the support from PDF legislators.
The BJP has said that the Congress does not have majority in the assembly. BJP vice-president Shyam Jaju said the party will wait for the apex court verdict before making further comments.
"Let Supreme Court decide, then we will comment. But it's certain that key of government formation will depend on the court's decision on rebel Congress legislators and also PDF members," Jaju told IANS.
Harish Rawat has expressed confidence of continued PDF support.
"The PDF stands with me. They have shown the country that for them principles are supreme and horse trading has no place. I don't have words to express respect for their solidarity," Rawat told a news channel.