Harish Rawat talks to press after winning the trust vote in State Assembly in Dehradun. (Photo: IANS)
In a major boost for Congress, ousted Chief Minister Harish Rawat won the floor test on Tuesday in the Uttarakhand Assembly though the result will be officially known only on Wednesday.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) admitted defeat after 33 MLAs reportedly voted for Rawat while the Opposition mustered only 28 votes in a House whose strength was reduced from 72 to 62.
Speaker did not vote and nine Congress rebels legislators were not allowed to vote. The sole nominated member also apparently did not vote.
The Supreme Court monitored the voting and said it will announce the result on Wednesday. But within minutes after the floor test, the Congress sounded triumphant.
Sarita Arya, the Congress MLA from Nainital, told a TV channel here: "The Congress has won."
Rawat didn't comment on the result but thanked the "Supreme Court, democratic forces, divine forces and the people of Uttarakhand" for supporting him.
Using words that made it very clear that he had won, he said: "Uttarakhand will be victorious tomorrow (Wednesday).
"I hope the clouds of uncertainty over the state will be over and things will be clearer (on Wednesday)." But out of deference to the apex court, he refused to say what happened inside the assembly.
Tuesday's vote was called to prove whether or not Rawat enjoyed majority support after defection by nine Congress legislators reduced his state government to a minority in the 72-member house.
But the scales tiled in his favour when both the Uttarakhand High Court and the Supreme Court ruled that the rebel legislators cannot take part in the floor test.
BJP member Ganesh Joshi conceded that his party had lost the vote.
"The BJP couldn't defeat the Congress in the numbers game," he told reporters.
Joshi accused the Congress of using "muscle and money power" to win the support of its own legislators.
Congress now has 27 and the BJP 28 members in the house. But six other legislators, including two from the Bahujan Samaj Party, appeared to have voted for Rawat although the break-up is not clear.
Centre dismissed Rawat's government on March 27 and cited misgovernance to impose President's Rule in the hill state.
Earlier on the day, BSP leader Mayawati declared her party's support to the Congress when she said: "We have always opposed communal forces. Our two MLAs ... will vote for the Congress."