Friday, 13 May 2016 12:18

Centre exploits Article 356 to marginalise opponents

Centre exploits Article 356 to marginalise opponents

By: ysn

 

Article 356 has often been misused by the Centre to destabilise governments in the state, and the latest development in Uttarakhand, where Chief Minister Harish Rawat of the Congress was ousted and president's rule imposed, is a case in hand. The political turmoil in Uttarakhand started on March 18 when the BJP's 27 MLAs marched to Raj Bhawan along with nine rebel MLAs of the Congress, and told Governor K.K. Paul that the ruling party has lost majority in the Assembly.

 

The governor gave a March 28 deadline to the beleaguered Chief Minister to prove his majority. But, Congress leaders in New Delhi came all out alleging that the BJP was in a sinister mission to dispense off Congress government in the states. They cited the example of Arunachal Pradesh, where Chief Minister Nabam Tuki was dislodged from office by the governor, on what they said was false pretext of failure of constitutional machinery, on the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

 

Soon, the social media was flooded with the hashtag #BJPKilled Democracy, with the youth of the country expressing its resentment to how Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat was being treated politically and denied the fair chance to prove majority in the house of 71 MLAs. The word has it that the BJP and its ideological fountainhead, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, prepared the blueprint of Rawat's downfall by joining hands with Congress leader Saket Bahuguna, who is the son of former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay bahuguna. Saket, allegedly under the BJP-RSS's encouragement, influenced nine MLAs of the Congress to rebel against the party. RSS's organisational secretary for Uttar Pradesh, Shiv Prakash, is said to be the prime mediator in this political coup. He and Saket allegedly offered the nine rebel MLAs Cabinet berths in a new Congress government led by Harak Singh Rawat, minus incumbent CM Harish Rawat.

 

As the BJP's involvement in the political crisis became apparent, it received major backlash from the public, with the sentiment in the social media clearly sympathising with the Congress and CM Harish Rawat. But, the BJP did not stop short to ensure that the Congress government was dislodged. The Centre shocked the country by deciding to impose president's rule in the state, a day before CM Harish Rawat was to take floor test. This was against every canon of democratic spirit and principles. 

 

An indignant Harish Rawat then moved the Uttarakhand High Court to seek legal remedy against the political coup. In a major jolt to the Centre, the Court maintained that Harish Rawat's removal was a hush up exercise and the CM should be given the chance for a floor test. In yet another endorsement of the popular opinion that there was a conspiracy at work against the state government, the Court also disqualified the rebel MLAs from participating in the no-trust motion. 

 

This verdict gave the Congress marked advantage to prove its majority in the Uttarakhand Assembly. It also exposed the Centre's malevolent ploy to bring down a popularly elected government. The random use of president's rule in two states in less than three months does not bode well for our electoral system. The constitution does mandate that president's rule can be imposed in emergency situations, but that does not mean this provision should be used as weapon by the Centre to change the political kaleidoscope in states governed by rival political parties. President's rule should be the last resort, and should be used only after all constitutional options are exhausted.

 

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