SC reinstates Harish Rawat as Uttarakhand chief minister

The Congress government has won Tuesday's trust vote in the Uttarakhand assembly, the Supreme Court declared on Wednesday, clearing the decks for the reinstatement of Harish Rawat as the chief minister of the hill state.

The apex court's announcement came after a bench examined the report of its observer.

Harish Rawat, restored as chief minister, said in a press conference in Dehradun, ''The judiciary has come forth as an educator on the Constitution. I want to thank the Supreme Court and the high court.

''After my cabinet is restored, I will meet Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to thank them for their unconditional support.

''I will also meet Prime Minister Modi and finance minister Arun jaitley and will tell them that Uttarakhand needs their support.''

Earlier, Attorney-General Mukul Rohtagi informed the Supreme Court that ousted chief minister Harish Rawat had clinched the numbers in the floor test with 33 of the 61 MLAs voting for him. Thereupon, the Supreme Court said that Harish Rawat can resume charge as the chief minister.

The court also said no irregularities were found in the trust vote or the voting pattern.

"AG has told the Supreme Court that they are likely to complete proceedings to revoke President's rule in Uttarakhand today," advocate K C Kaushik, appearing for Harish Rawat, said.

Reacting to the victory for the Congress, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi tweeted that he hopes Prime Minister Narendra Modi has learnt a lesson from the people of the country.

With nine disqualified Congress MLAs barred from voting, 33 MLAs voted for Rawat while the Bharatiya Janata Party conceded that they got only 28 votes in a house with an effective strength of 61.

Outside support
A key factor for saving the Congress was the support of the PDF, which comprises two Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) legislators, one from the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD) and three independents.

The PDF has been supporting the Congress government in the state since its formation in 2012.

There had been rumours earlier that the PDF might break away from its alliance with the Congress, especially after two BSP MLAs Sarwat Karim Ansari and Haridas were believed to be in talks with the BJP.

However, when the BSP MLAs joined Harish Rawat outside the state assembly gate just a few minutes before they entered, it became evident that they would support the Congress.

BSP chief Mayawati had on Tuesday announced her party's support for the Congress in the.

"We have always opposed communal forces. Our two MLAs have reached the assembly. They will vote for the Congress," Mayawati had told reporters outside Parliament in New Delhi.

Two cross-voters
The floor test on Tuesday also reportedly saw two cross-votes, one by Rekha Arya, a Congress MLA who voted against the Harish Rawat government during the floor test.

Arya gave the indication that she would support the BJP during the floor test when she walked into the Assembly with BJP leader Ajay Bhatt on Tuesday morning.

The the Congress had reportedly been unable to contact her for the last three or four days, even though the party had said that it had talked to her family and was confident that "her heart is with the Congress".

On the other hand, BJP MLA Bhim Lal Arya walked into the Assembly with Harish Rawat and voted for the Congress during the floor test. The two cross-votes cancelled each other out.

According to The Indian Express, the BJP had taken disciplinary action against Arya around six months ago. Arya was known to have praised Rawat publicly, further angering his own party.

''He is in the kabza (grip) of Harish Rawat. They flew him to Corbett National Park. There are always two persons guarding him even when he goes to the restroom,'' the report had quoted a BJP leader as saying.