Elated Harish Rawat after the court verdict.
Elated Harish Rawat after the court verdict.

NEW DELHI (TIP): The Supreme Court on May 11 (Wednesday) put the Harish Rawat-led Congress government back in the saddle in Uttarakhand, allowing the central government to revoke President’s rule following Rawat’s victory in Tuesday’s floor test.

A bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh accepted Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi’s plea that the Centre wanted to withdraw the proclamation for President’s rule in the course of the day to enable Rawat to take charge as chief minister.

As the AG submitted that Rawat had been successful in proving his majority on the floor of the House, the bench opened the results of the floor test, submitted by court-appointed observers, and declared that Rawat had secured 33 of the 61 votes.

Late Wednesday night, a Home Ministry official confirmed that President’s rule had been lifted. “The President has signed the papers for lifting of President’s rule in Uttarakhand. The official notification is being issued,” the official said. While assembly polls in the state are scheduled for January-February next year, the Congress is learnt to be weighing the pros and cons of going for early elections to encash what it believes is a “sympathy wave” in favour of Rawat. There’s also nervousness about the state government counting on external support for its survival —it’s backed by the PDF of six MLAs.

After the court order, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said, “Hope Modiji learns his lesson. People of of this country and the institutions built by our founding fathers will not tolerate the murder of democracy. They did their worst. We did our best. Democracy won in Uttarakhand.” But the BJP tried to put up a brave front, saying that the Congress’s victory had been “purchased”. “This is not a victory, it has been purchased. This was a fixed match… They are trying to run a government by dadagiri. This is a crisis of their own making,” BJP spokesman Shrikant Sharma said. In court, modifying its previous order whereby the Centre was restrained from revoking President’s rule in the state, the bench said, “Keeping in view the prayer made by the learned Attorney General, we vary the order by granting liberty to the Union of India to revoke the proclamation of President’s rule in the State of Uttarakhand in the course of the day. Needless to say, after the Presidential rule is revoked, the first respondent (Rawat) can assume the office of the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand.” Minutes after the bench gave its nod, the Union Cabinet met briefly at Parliament House at 12.45 pm and recommended the revocation of President’s rule in Uttarakhand. The order of revocation has to be placed before the apex court on Friday. Rawat’s counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal appreciated the Centre’s stand on revocation of the proclamation. “It is a very fair stand and we appreciate the learned AG for making a statement on revocation of President’s rule,” said the lawyers.

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Harish Rawat rules out snap polls

Back to power in Uttarakhand, the Congress is in no hurry to call fresh Assembl y elections in the state. It will focus on development of the state, which stands derailed since the Centre imposed President’s rule on March 26.

Chief Minister Harish Rawat today ruled out snap polls in the hill state after he met Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her residence here this evening. His Cabinet colleagues accompanied him. They are back to the Cabinet with the revocation of President’s rule in the state last midnight after Harish Rawat won the floor test. “Our sole priority right now is development of the state which has been derailed on account of the two-month gap during President’s rule. We have to put the state back on track,” said Rawat after being asked if he discussed snap polls and Uttarakhand cabinet rejig with Sonia Gandhi.

Asked if he planned to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the Chief Minister said he would meet anyone he had to in the interest of the state. He said his win in the floor test was in fact a win of people of the state, adding that he would not practise a politics of confrontation with the Centre.

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