President’s rule imposed in Uttarakhand even as Harish Rawat alleges ‘murder of democracy’

Even as Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat condemned the “threat” by the Centre to the hill state hit by a political crisis, the Centre imposed President’s Rule in Uttarakhand on Sunday on the grounds of “breakdown of governance” in a controversial decision which comes in the wake of a political crisis triggered by a rebellion in the ruling Congress.

The state Assembly is now in suspended animation. President Pranab Mukherjee signed the proclamation under Article 356 of the Constitution on Sunday morning.

The recommendation for central rule was made by the Union Cabinet at its emergency meeting on Saturday night, chaired by PM Narendra Modi who cut short his visit to Assam. After the Cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley briefed the President late Saturday night, the sources said.

The Cabinet considered several reports received from Governor KK Paul, who had described the political situation as volatile and expressed apprehensions over possible pandemonium during the scheduled trial of strength in the state Assembly on Monday. The dismissal of the Rawat government however now renders Monday’s confidence vote infructuous.

Rawat had earlier said that imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand will be a murder of democracy and that it is not acceptable in a parliamentary system.

“The Centre is threatening a small state like Uttarakhand with President’s rule. It is not acceptable in a parliamentary system. There is a procedure for President’s rule, which has emerged following precedence,” he had told reporters.

Rawat had also accused BJP of attacking democracy with money and muscle power in its bid to dislodge his four-year-old Congress government.

“They (BJP) have attacked democracy with money and muscle power,” he had said. He also appealed to the “right-thinking” people to condemn attempts by BJP to “murder democracy”.

Rawat said BJP was not relying on people’s mandate and accused it of using money power to overthrow the government in Uttarakhand. “It is low-level politics.”

Rejecting suggestions that there is a division within Congress that has led to the current crisis, Rawat had said, “We do not have any internal tussle. It is BJP and RSS which are hobnobbing with the Congress rebels to create the crisis.”

Nine Congress MLAs had raised the banner of revolt against Rawat.

The chief minister had also said that Congress will take the attempts to destablise his government to the people of the state and that it will be up to them to decide whether “sting” and defections will determine the future of the state.

Claiming that the video CD of a purported sting operation, circulated by the rebel Congress MLAs, was fake, Rawat on Saturday had also cast doubt about the credentials of the man behind it and demanded a probe into his antecedents.

“The sting CD being shown on the news channels is fake. The reputation of the man behind it who is associated with a private news channel is not hidden from anyone. His antecedents must be probed,” Rawat had said at a hurriedly-called press conference at his residence in Dehradun, soon after the sting CD was released before the media in Delhi.

Even though he called the video “false”, Rawat had said if at all it indicates something, it is that the rebel MLAs have aligned with BJP for money.

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