Providing Governance To A Sensitive Border StateThe Centreâs decision to impose Presidentâs rule in Arunachal Pradesh has been criticized on three major points: first, that it throws a sensitive border state into political uncertainty; second, that it shows scant respect for the judiciary as the matter was pending before the Supreme Court and three, that it was a misuse of Article 356 of the Constitution.
By Sunil Garodia
Let us take the last point first. The Governor submitted a report to the Union government which gave an assessment of the political situation in the state. According to him, there was a political crisis in the state as the elected government had lost many of its supporters through defections. Now, although the floor of the assembly is the best place to test whether the government of the day enjoyed majority support, the elected government of Arunachal Pradesh had been unable to convene a meeting of the house for long. With court cases going on, how long could the state remain ungoverned? Hence, his reading of the situation was technically correct. That the President signed the proclamation means that he too agreed with the Governorâs assessment.
Which is better, letting political uncertainty reign in a sensitive border state or to bring it under Presidentâs rule? It was the Congress high command that had ignored rebel MLAâs who had been complaining since a long time against Chief Minister Nabam Tuki. If they left the party and precipitated the political crisis, it was only due to the mismanagement by the Congress high command. Having been unable to keep its own house in order, it is now accusing the state BJP of engineering defections and the Centre of misusing Article 356.
Finally, it is true that the Supreme Court is hearing the matter of âimpeachmentâ of the Speaker by a session of the assembly convened by the Governor. Ideally, the Centre should have waited till the apex court had decided the matter. But if the Centre thought that the matter needed legislative remedy, it followed the constitution in letter, if not in spirit. The Centre must now ensure that there is no horse trading and a BJP government, propped up by Congress rebels and others, is not installed in the state. There should be fresh elections, if need be. The Centre has not thrown Arunachal into political uncertainty â on the contrary, it has moved to provide governance to the state as it was without a functioning government for the last few months.
There is one more point to consider. Presidentâs rule in any state has to be ratified by both houses of parliament before the expiry of two months. How will the NDA get it ratified in the Rajya Sabha, where it is woefully short of numbers? Further, this issue will provide fodder to an opposition bent on preventing the government from getting any meaningful business done in parliament. Are we going to witness another wasted session of parliament in the budget session?