New Delhi: Political upheaval continued in Uttarakhand as the Supreme Court on Wednesday extended a stay on a high court order quashing President’s rule in the state till further orders.

This means that a floor test ordered by the Uttarakhand high court in the state assembly on 29 April will not be held.

“Centre will take a call on holding a floor test only after the apex court takes a decision," said the government’s top law officer, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi.

This was in response to the Supreme Court’s call for a possible floor test.

“The eventuality of upholding imposition of President’s rule or otherwise would be a floor test. Therefore, to sustain democracy, there should be a floor test—think over it. President’s rule should be on constitutional and democratic principles," the apex court said.

A bench comprising justices Dipak Mishra and Shiva Kirti Singh also framed seven questions of law to be considered in the case. The case will be heard next on 3 May.

The court was hearing the centre’s appeal challenging the Uttarakhand high court’s 21 April ruling quashing President’s rule in the state. A day later, the apex court stayed that order after the centre assured the court that no action will be taken to revoke President’s rule in the state to allow the formation of a new government.

Rohatgi justified the imposition of President’s rule in the state, saying there had been allegations of political horse-trading, corruption and failure of constitutional machinery after the appropriation bill for its annual budget failed to secure passage.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing ousted chief minister Harish Rawat, said that the government cannot be deemed to have fallen if an appropriation bill is not passed.

“Failing to secure passage of a money bill is only a trigger and not a reason for the government to fall," he said.

The court also hinted that a decision is likely to be taken before 14 May, when the court breaks for a month-and-a-half-long summer vacation.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress continue to blame each other for the crisis in Uttarakhand.

“The government will answer the questions in court. The fact is that the National Democratic Alliance fulfilled its constitutional duties in the state. It is because of the internal problems of the Congress party that the state government is in a minority. Congress party should not blame BJP for its internal crisis," said Anil Baluni, national spokesperson and senior leader of the BJP from Uttarakhand.

A senior Congress leader from the state accused the BJP of trying to form a government in the state through unconstitutional means. “We have witnessed similar political crisis in Arunachal Pradesh and now it is happening in Uttarakhand, but BJP will not succeed in its designs," he said.

The hill state was thrown into crisis after a rebellion by nine Congress MLAs emboldened the opposition BJP to approach governor Krishan Kant Paul to stake its claim to form a government.

Soon after, the nine MLAs were sent notices by speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal, asking them to explain why they should not be disqualified for violating the party’s whip and aligning with the BJP. They were subsequently disqualified on 27 March. The nine MLAs have also moved the Supreme Court.

The governor scheduled a floor test for 28 March. But on 27 March, the centre imposed President’s rule in the state on the grounds of “breakdown of governance".

Political analysts say that the developments in Uttarakhand will impact the ongoing Parliament session.

“The Congress party will keep making noise as it is also acting politically. There is no question of cooperation. It is an eyeball-to-eyeball affair," said Manisha Priyam, a New Delhi-based political analyst.

“As of now, any decision for the centre will be based on what the court decides. However, when the Supreme Court announces its verdict and says a floor test needs to happen and the centre opposes that decision, it will be a different case," she added.

Meenal Thakur and Gyan Varma contributed to this story.

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