The Centre today justified imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand, contending that there was “no better example” for invoking Article 356 as the Harish Rawat government was “unconstitutional” and “immoral” since March 18 when it “lost” majority in the Assembly.
As Congress cried “murder of democracy” after losing power in second state after Arunachal Pradesh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley countered by accusing the state government of “murdering” provisions of Constitution every day for the last nine days.
Speaking to media shortly after President’s Rule was imposed in the hill state, he said there were “cogent, relevent and extremely important grounds” on which the Union Cabinet came to the decision.
“There is no better example than this for invoking Article 356 of the Constitution. For the last nine days, every day provisions of Constitution are being murdered.
“It was not only appropriate but the demand of the time that such an immoral government did not continue in Uttarakhand which has lost its majority. There was complete breakdown of the Constitution in Uttarakhand,” he said.
While referring to March 18, he said in the 71-member Assembly, 67 members, excluding the Speaker, were present out of whom 35 wanted Division of Votes on the Appropriation Bill.
The Division of votes was sought in writing in advance by the 35 members who also voted against the Bill, despite which the Speaker showed the legislation as passed, Jaitley said.
“That was the first violation of Constitution,” he said.
Citing other reasons for dismissing the government, he spoke about the “hard evidence” of Rawat offering allurements to win over MLAs to change the composition of House, discriminatory use of anti-defection law by the Speaker with regard to his action against rebel MLAs of BJP and Congress.
Jaitley said Governor K K Paul had also mentioned that he had “serious doubts” over what happened in the Assembly on March 18 and said his report played a key role in the Cabinet’s decision.
Asked about criticsm, especially by BJP, of the Governor’s decision to give Rawat nine days to prove his majority, he said there was no reason for him to arrive at such a conclusion after going through his report.
The Governor had repeated asked the Chief Minister to convene the Assembly in two-three days for floor test but he deliberately prolonged it by insisting that he would do so only on March 28, Jaitley said.
“He wanted to use the time period for allurement, horse-trading to change the composition of the House...During each of the nine days, provisions of the Constitution were violated,” the Union Minister said.
About the sting operation against Rawat, he said, “This is the first time that there is hard evidence about horse-trading by a Chief Minister who has been caught on camera.”
On the Congress charge that BJP was destablising its governments, he said the opposition party should put its House in order as it was a crisis created by Congress itself. “There was rebellion in Congress as the party high command had been refusing to even meet their leaders,” he said.