Congress confident after Uttarakhand trust vote

The Congress claimed victory in Uttarakhand after a tightly-contested trust vote in the assembly today, though the official result will be declared only on Wednesday by the Supreme Court.

Reports said the Congress managed 33 votes, two more than the 31 required in a house with an effective strength of 62 after the disqualification of 9 MLAs. The Bharatiya Janata Party is said to have managed 28, the number of MLAs it has in the assembly.

The Supreme Court, which ordered the floor test to end the nearly two-month-long political impasse in the hill state, will take the final call after watching the video of the voting and examining the report of its observer Jaidev Singh. He is likely to submit his report to the court on Wednesday.

Ousted chief minister Harish Rawat – facing a challenge to his government after nine Congress rebelled in March – refused to comment on the outcome of the vote, though other Congress leaders said the party has managed the requisite numbers.

''The clouds of uncertainty will vanish soon,'' Rawat said and thanked the top court which had ordered the trial of strength and also upheld the Uttarakhand High Court's ruling barring the nine Congress rebels from voting.

The tone and tenor of BJP leaders' comments also pointed to a Congress win.

''We have won in principle. But we may be behind in the number's game,'' BJP legislator Ganesh Joshi said after the voting, held during a two-hour window when President's Rule was lifted according to the apex court's ruling.

A Congress victory will pave the way for the reinstatement of Rawat's government in the state, which was placed under President's Rule by the BJP-led Central government, sparking a controversy over alleged attempts to topple elected governments in opposition-ruled states.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, one of the fiercest critics of the Narendra Modi government at the centre, was among the first to react.

''Uttarakhand floor test outcome is a huge setback to Modi Govt. Hope they will stop toppling Govts now,'' he tweeted.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati gave Rawat the advantage in the morning by deciding to back the Congress. The BSP has two MLAs who are part of the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) that also includes three independents and a lone Uttarakhand Kranti Dal legislator.

The voting began amidst dramatic circumstances with a rebel BJP legislator Bhim Lal Arya switching over to the Congress side, while Congress MLA Rekha Arya appeared to have crossed over to the BJP.

She entered the assembly with BJP MLAs waving the victory sign.

Before the voting, BJP leaders and legislators held a 10-minute meeting and emerged shouting, ''Bharat mata ki jai ho'. Party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said the BJP will win the floor test.

Chain of events
The Centre clamped President's rule on 27 March, just a day before Rawat was to take a trust vote in the assembly (See: SC defers floor test in Uttarakhand assembly, questions central rule ).

Rawat challenged the President's Rule in the Uttarakhand High Court, which on 29 March ordered a trust vote two days later (HC allows floor test in Uttarakhand despite President's Rule ). But a division bench of the high court stayed the single bench ruling.

On 21 April, the division bench headed by then Chief Justice J M Joseph revoked President's Rule, restoring Rawat as CM and asking him to seek trust vote on 29 April (High court quashes President's rule in Uttarakhand; orders floor test).

The next day, the Centre got a stay from the Supreme Court against the HC order (SC defers floor test in Uttarakhand assembly, questions central rule), giving Rawat a place in the history books as being helm of a state for shortest period – less than 24 hours – in which he held two Cabinet meetings and took 11 populist decisions.

Immediately after the trust vote, Congress leaders and workers celebrated at the Rajiv Bhawan, the party's state headquarters located in the heart of Dehradun.

''Aap thoda rukiye, aaj yahan bhari jashn hoga (Wait a while, there will be big celebrations here),'' said Hazi Mohammad Akram, a Congress leader from Nainital.