Political storm blows over President Rule in Uttarakhand

27 March 2016, 06:37 PM

Imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand today kicked up a political storm, with Congress dubbing it as “murder of democracy” and “unconstitutional” step even as the Centre justified the action, arguing that Harish Rawat government was “unconstitutional” and “immoral”.

Rawat, who lost his government, condemned the imposition of President’s rule and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hands were dipped in the “blood” of the “trampled” aspirations of the people.

Alleging that central rule was a result of a “pre-meditated conspiracy” hatched by the Centre to dislodge a democratically-elected Congress government in the state, Rawat said in Dehradun that the BJP was “thirsty for his blood” right from the day he assumed office on February one, 2014.

A host of Congress leaders slammed the Modi government over the development.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi termed the action as “murder of democracy” and “subversion” of the Constitution. He said the people as well has courts are likely to take a “very dim view” of the development.

The Party’s chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said Congress will fight it “politically, constitutionally and avail all legal rights that the party has got with it”.

“It is not surprising...The real desire of the government of India is to bring down duly-elected governments of small states in an undemocratic and unconstitutional manner,” Congress general secretary Ambika Soni said.

“It’s a blatant and brazen display of authoritarian, anti-democratic and anti-Constitutional mindset of the Modi government,” said Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha.

Today’s action, he said, is a grim reminder of the threat the democratic institutions of the country are facing and accused the Modi government of having breached all records in trampling the democratic norms and Constitutional traditions.

The Centre, on its part, justified the decision, contending that there was “no better example” for invoking Article 356 as the Rawat government was “unconstitutional” and “immoral” since March 18 when it “lost” majority in the Assembly.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said there were “cogent, relevent and extremely important grounds” on which the Union Cabinet came to the decision.

“There is no better example than this for invoking Article 356 of the Constitution. For the last nine days, every day provisions of Constitution are being murdered.

“It was not only appropriate but the demand of the time that such an immoral government did not continue in Uttarakhand which has lost its majority. There was complete breakdown of the Constitution in Uttarakhand,” he said.

The Division of votes was sought in writing in advance by the 35 members who also voted against the Bill, despite which the Speaker showed the legislation as passed, Jaitley said.

“That was the first violation of Constitution,” he said.

Citing other reasons for dismissing the government, the Union Minister spoke about the “hard evidence” of Rawat offering allurements to win over MLAs to change the composition of House, discriminatory use of anti-defection law by the Speaker with regard to his action against rebel MLAs of BJP and Congress.

Jaitley said Governor K K Paul had also mentioned that he had “serious doubts” over what happened in the Assembly on March 18 and said his report played a key role in the Cabinet’s decision.

Asked about criticsm, especially by BJP, of the Governor’s decision to give Rawat nine days to prove his majority, he said there was no reason for him to arrive at such a conclusion after going through his report.

The Governor had repeated asked the Chief Minister to convene the Assembly in two-three days for floor test but he deliberately prolonged it by insisting that he would do so only on March 28, Jaitley said.

“He wanted to use the time period for allurement, horse-trading to change the composition of the House...During each of the nine days, provisions of the Constitution were violated,” the Union Minister said.

About the sting operation against Rawat, he said, “This is the first time that there is hard evidence about horse-trading by a Chief Minister who has been caught on camera.”

On the Congress charge that BJP was destablising its governments, he said the opposition party should put its House in order as it was a crisis created by Congress itself. “There was rebellion in Congress as the party high command had been refusing to even meet their leaders,” he said.

Rebel Congress leader Vijay Bahuguna welcomed the decision, saying the government headed by Rawat needed to be dismissed as it was involved in “corruption”.

Bahuguna, a former Chief Minister, expressed hope that the central rule will not prolong and fresh elections would be held in his state.

“I welcome it..It is a good step,” he said while commenting on imposition of the central rule in his state.

He also alleged that the developments in Uttarakhand prior to imposition of President’s Rule amounted to “murder of democracy” as he criticised the role of the Speaker in the whole affair.

Bahuguna, a bete noire of Harish Rawat, said the happenings in the state, including the sting operation against the Chief Minister, necessitated dismissal of the state government.

“I hope the President’s Rule will not be there for long time and fresh elections will be held early,” he said.

At the same time, he said if there is a possibility of formation of a government within the present Assembly, it would be good.

Prez rule imposed one day before trust vote? BJP is anti -democracy. BJP/RSS want dictatorship, want to rule India thro Prez Rule,” Kejriwal tweeted.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashutosh also took to Twitter to criticise the Centre’s decision, saying it was “murder of democracy”.

First Published: Sunday, March 27, 2016 06:35 PM
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