Dehradun: With the BJP fielding its nominee for the Uttarkhand Speaker's election, the stage was on Monday set for the Congress government to face its first trial of strength in the Assembly on Sunday.

Congress MLA Govind Singh Kunjwal, a close confidant of Union Minister Harish Rawat, and BJP MLA Harbans Kapoor on Saturday morning filed their nominations for the post of Speaker in the Assembly.

It will be the first time that elections for the post of Speaker will be held on Monday in the 12-year-old hill state.

The Congress has already claimed the support of 39 MLAs in the house of 70 where the BJP has a strength of only 31.

The Congress is banking on the backing of seven non-BJP MLAs, including three independents, who had already given their letter of support to Governor Margaret Alva.

The Congress has attempted to woo the MLAs of the faction led by Rawat by putting a candidate from his camp.

During the filing of nominations before Principal Secretary in the Assembly D P Gairola, Kunjwal was accompanied by Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and all Congress MLAs besides Rawat, who made his first appearance in the state ever since he lost the race for chief ministership to Bahuguna.

Earlier, except S S Negi, 10 remaining Congress MLAs were administered oath by protem Speaker Shailendra Mohan Singhal in his chamber giving much-needed relief to the Bahuguna government ahead of the election of the Speaker.

Talking to reporters, Bahuguna later said there are no fissures in Uttarakhand Congress and all MLAs are united.

He also expressed confidence that Kunjwal would comfortably win the election to become the Speaker.

"Our (Congress) candidate would comfortably win the elections tomorrow as we have the support of a total of 39 MLAs in the 70 member house," Bahuguna said.

Rawat also expressed similar views and said the government would complete its five year term.

(Agencies)