Dehra Dun, Mar 26: Having reached a truce with rebel Congress MLAs, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna today won the first test of strength with party nominee Govind Singh Kunjwal, a loyalist of Harish Rawat, defeating the BJP candidate for the post of Assembly Speaker.
Kunjwal, 67, defeated by 8 votes BJP's Harbans Kapoor. He got 39 votes and Kapoor bagged 31 votes from the total 70 votes polled, protem Speaker Shailendra Mohan Singhal informed the House.
All the three independents, Pritam Singh Panwar, the lone member of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and three members of the BSP voted in favour of Kunjwal.
“We have won our first major test through the successful election of the speaker. Now there is no need to bring a separate trust vote,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Indira Hridayesh said.
She said the government is bringing a vote on account, which is a money bill, on March 29, the passage of which should also be seen as a trust vote.
Moreover, there is Rajya Sabha election on March 30 where the victory of Congress candidate Mahendra Singh Mahra looks certain now, she said adding this will also be a proof of the majority of the new Congress government.
In addition to this, Hridayesh said Governor Margaret Alva is also satisfied with the numbers of the ruling party in the house. “The governor has also not asked us to prove majority in the house,” Hridayesh said.
The victory margin of Congress candidate is being seen as convincing now since BJP failed to muster more votes than the strength of its total 31 members in the house.
However, Congress sources said in case BJP wants to bring a separate no confidence vote, it was free to do that.
The first session of the new Assembly is beginning tomorrow with the address of the Governor.
Rawat, who spearheaded the rebel camp, came on board after a compromise was worked out within the party and his supporters taking oath ahead of the session.
An MLA from Jageshwar in Almora district, Kunjwal scored a hat-trick in the recent Assembly elections. After his election, the Speaker pledged to maintain the sanctity of the house and said he would work without any bias.
“I assure you that I will treat all the members equally and maintain the sanctity of the house,” the former horticulture minister in the N D Tiwari government during 2002-07 said.
Earlier in the day, Bahuguna made a passionate plea to the opposition BJP to withdraw the candidate for the Speaker in lines with the highest traditions of the democracy.
However, BJP remained adamant and pressed for voting which began around 1230 hours. After more than one hour, the protem speaker declared the results in the house.
Congratulating the Speaker, Bahuguna hoped that the new speaker would maintain the highest standards of democracy and said he expects the speaker to leave imprints which would become an example in the state.
“I am sure that you are able to earn confidence of both the ruling and opposition benches,” Bahuguna said.