HC allows floor test in Uttarakhand despite President's Rule

Harish Rawat Ousted Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat said today he was confident of proving his majority in the state assembly after the Nainital High Court allowed a floor test despite the hill state being under President's Rule.

''The high court's decision is a lesson for law breakers and those who have tried to destabilise our government,'' the Congress leader said.

Rawat said the court order was a ''tremendous setback'' for the Bharatiya Janata Party. ''The Congress and our government have full respect for the judiciary. We still do not have the full judgment of the High Court but the part of the order available shows that the court holds the Centre's decision wrong,'' he said.

Rawat condemned the imposition of President's Rule by governor K K Paul and said it ''badly hurt'' the ''people of Uttarakhand''. He asserted that his government will fight against the imposition of President's Rule and ''the fight is based on principles''.

A day before Rawat was to prove his majority in the assembly, the Congress government in Uttarakhand was dismissed on Sunday following a recommendation of the union cabinet and the state was placed under President's Rule.

The Uttarakhand political crisis began when nine Congress legislators, including former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna, whom Rawat replaced, revolted against the chief minister and turned BJP supporters.

Hearing a petition by Rawat on Tuesday, the high court said all nine Congress rebel members who were disqualified by the speaker will be allowed to take part in the vote. It said the result of the voting should be presented to the court on Friday and ordered a court registrar to oversee the vote in the assembly.

''To order something like this during President's Rule is unprecedented,'' BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.

The BJP stepped up its attack on the Congress, saying even ''elected leaders'' in that party seem to have lost faith in Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's leadership.

''You have lost ground, people had deserted you long back. Now the situation is such that your own elected people are deserting the party because they have lost faith in your leadership,'' BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said.

Amid BJP cries that Rawat did not enjoy a majority in the house of 70 members, the speaker had asked the government to prove its majority on Monday.

The Congress rebel lawmakers were disqualified on Saturday and the BJP-led central government imposed President's Rule a day later.