Crucial floor test in Uttarakhand assembly ends, outcome Wednesday

Dehradun: The Congress on Tuesday claimed to have won the Uttarakhand floor test even as the official result of the crucial vote to determine who has the legislative strength in the hill state will be declared by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Harish RawatHarish Rawat

Sarita Arya, the Congress legislator from Nainital constituency, told a private TV channel here that the 'Congress has won'.

She claimed that ousted Chief Minister Harish Rawat secured 33 votes while 28 went against him in the house whose strength was reduced to 62 -- including one nominated member -- from the original 72 (including the speaker) after the Supreme Court upheld the disqualification of nine rebel Congress legislators.

BJP member Ganesh Joshi also conceded that his party had lost the vote. "the BJP couldn't defeat the Congress in the numbers game," he told reporters here after the assembly proceedings were videographed on the order of the Supreme Court.

Joshi also accused the Congress of using "muscle and money power" to win the support of its own legislators.

The Congress now has 27 members and the BJP 28 in the house. There are six from other parties including four from the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) and two from the Bahujan Samaj Party. All six of them have apparently voted for Rawat.

The voting was conducted to ascertain Rawat's legislative strength after his government was dismissed on March 27. The central government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cited misgovernance to impose President's Rule in the hill state.

Many Congress leaders, however, said in private that they had won the vote and would be vindicated when the top court announces the result.

As Congress legislators came out of the assembly after the floor test, they refused to comment on the outcome. However, some of them flashed victory signs and shouted slogans "Long Live Congress, Long Live Harish Rawat".

A beaming Rawat didn't comment on the voting result but thanked the "Supreme Court, democratic forces, divine forces and people of Uttarakhand" for supporting him. "Uttarakhand will be victorious tomorrow (Wednesday)," Rawat told reporters.

"I hope clouds of uncertainty over the state will be over and things will be clearer (on Wednesday," he said, refusing to comment on "what happened inside the assembly".

President's rule was kept in abeyance for two hours in the state when the floor test was underway under the observation of the principal secretary of legislative assembly and parliamentary affairs.

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