Uttarakhand crisis: BJP, Congress take hill battle to president

New Delhi: Both rivals in the Uttarakhand slugfest on Monday carried their cause to President Pranab Mukherjee but not before the BJP had pruned its team, dropping the Congress rebels, on a signal of disapproval from Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The BJP pressed Mukherjee to dismiss the Harish Rawat government before the scheduled March 28 floor test, afraid that a move by the Assembly Speaker to disqualify nine Congress rebels could smother its chances.

Uttarakhand crisis: BJP, Congress take hill battle to president

Later, a Congress team met and urged the President to ensure Rawat wasn’t ousted before the trial of strength in the House, where the ruling group held a thin majority before the rebellion in its ranks.

The Congress on Monday expelled former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna’s son Saket and party joint secretary Anil Gupta for anti-party activities. Bahuguna Sr had rebelled and voted against the government in the Assembly on Friday.

As the BJP geared to march from Vijay Chowk near Parliament to the President’s House this evening, Rashtrapati Bhavan informally conveyed its “disapproval”. The BJP read it as a cue for dropping the Congress rebels from its delegation and obliged.

Mukherjee meeting the rebels as part of the BJP team would have been seen as recognition of the rebellion. The BJP had also to junk its plan for a 35-strong team calling on Mukherjee after learning the President would meet a smaller group of “five or six”.

Led by general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, party president Amit Shah’s trouble-shooter for Uttarakhand, the team handed a memorandum to Mukherjee demanding the Rawat government’s immediate dismissal.

It also handed over a video of the Assembly proceedings last Friday when several Congress MLAs, including a minister, voted against the finance bill that the Speaker declared passed.

Defeat of a finance bill causes a government to fall, and the BJP claims that a majority of members voted against the bill.

“The Speaker’s role is unconstitutional,” Vijayvargiya had told reporters shortly before meeting the President.

Mukherjee is said to have told the BJP team during a 10-minute meeting that he would “examine” their demands.

A copy of the video, handed to governor K.K. Paul on Friday, has reached the Union home ministry, sources said.

Some in the BJP were unhappy with the governor, a UPA appointee in 2013.

“He should have taken cognisance of the Speaker’s conduct and sacked the government. We’ve learnt that he has sent a factual report without making any recommendation,” a BJP source said.

Others gave Paul the benefit of the doubt, arguing he had “played it safe like a proper bureaucrat”.

Paul was the Delhi police commissioner who busted then South Africa captain Hansie Cronje in the match-fixing scandal 16 years ago. His wife Omita is private secretary to the President.

The Uttarakhand Speaker had yesterday issued notices to nine Congress rebels asking them to explain by March 26 why they should not be disqualified from the House. The notices have been pasted on the walls of their homes.

The Congress team that met Mukherjee included A.K. Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Motilal Vora, Ambika Soni, Ahmed Patel and Kapil Sibal. They accused the BJP of plotting to topple Congress governments.

In Dehradun, chief minister Rawat alleged the Centre was “killing democracy” by using money and muscle power. Union minister M. Venkaiah Naidu denied the charge, calling the Congress “the mother of defections”.

Posted by on March 22, 2016. Filed under State. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.