By Kamal Morarka
The Supreme Court has come down heavily on President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh, which was imposed on report the Governor J.P. Rajkhowa, who was a good civil servant earlier. The problem with the Article 356 has to be analyzed and a solution should be found on balance of view. One view which had come into prominence when NTR and all other parties have come together demanding that 356 should be abolished and the post of Governor should be abolished. Once an elected government is there if it loses majority they should go for elections. Question of dismissal of government does not at all arise, that is one extreme view. The other view is that the central government must exercise it power whenever necessary. Abolishing is not a good idea article 356 has to remain in the interest of unity and integrity of the Country. However who will decide whether the government of a state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. Governor is supposed to do so.
Like all other posts in the country, it is very difficult to legislate people into behaving in a particular way. This problem was not there earlier. Of course even in Nehru’s time 1959, the Kerala government was dismissed and the charge of misuse of article 356 has started from there, but that was one isolated incident. Later there was a comfortable majority in the assemblies and occasions did not arise. When defection started taking place, the Sarakariya Committee has said that the correct place to determine majority and minority is the floor of the house. However, problem arises if a group of legislators call on the governor and governor can find out that they have lost majority, the correct course of the governor should be, he should tell the chief minister to call the assembly and proof the majority.
In Arunachal has himself call the assembly, himself fixed the agenda, which clearly unconstitutional, he acted beyond his authority. Central government could have dismissed the Arunachal Government without the governor’s report, which is also there in article 356. Instead of taking the responsibility you push it on the governor and make him a hapless fellow; it is not good. The correct course is to keep article 356 which with such safeguards which unfortunately it has to be laid down by judiciary as they have done it now in the Supreme Court. Politician should draw their own Laxaman Rekha unfortunately we are not doing this, and judiciary has to discipline us. It is not good thing at all for democracy. Judiciary is of course there but judiciary to always to interfere into legislative matters is not a healthy precedent. Both in Uttrakhand and Arunachal I hope the BJP has understood that crossing the line will not help; it will not help their credibility also, forget the system. They came as a party with difference; they said they will do opposite to what Congress has been doing for 60 years. Actually they are mimicking the Congress. In Delhi they did the same thing. Instead of either holding elections as soon as they came to power or forming the government, they waited, waited, waited and finally when they call for elections they lost the trust of the people – Kejriwal got 67 out of 70. In Bihar they did the same thing. I think of course Congress is in no position just now to articulate anything. They are passing through a bad phase, but BJP is also losing an opportunity. You have come to power with clear majority set new standards, approve what is correct, disapprove what is incorrect. Instead they are going the Congress way. They feel power is everything. They should understand that the power in northeastern and small states means nothing, because those states only collect less than 10 percent of the expenditure through their own revenue for 90 percent they have to depend on the centre. So in any case the central government is with you why is one worried which in northeast state government is of which party? Just to engineer defection and make a government there is bad, anywhere is bad, but in small states this is very, very bad; it creates unnecessary instability. Let us hope a review is taken of this judgement after the copies comes. And a time has come a guideline should put in, and I do not thing a commission or anything is required. The government itself should lay down that these are the parameters under which the government should function. So the credibility of the post of the governor is not destroyed any further. Credibility of the whole political system is at stake. That is the another issue that need to be addressed, but this constitutional post, at least you have to give credit to President Pranab Mukherjee that he has done nothing to discredit the post of the president , though the ruling party from not where he came all these years. Yet he has behaved correctly. Even though in Uttrakhand he could have refused to sign; sent it for reconsideration as next day was vote confidence, but he did not do it. He played according to book. If cabinet has sent it to me I must sign it; political consequences the cabinet and the ruling party have to face. I feel the BJP now the confidence that they have they should try to set better standards.
Another issue is one Muslim preacher Zakir Nayak whom I have heard on TV many times earlier on the interpretation of the Quran. I have to give to his credit that he was trying to answer difficult questions from the Muslim audience on the contradiction on the Quran and illogical things. Like any good religious preachers he has tried to defend what is written in Quran and Shriat and gave some explanation to it. That is his right in this country. Now what has come is something astonishing. I did not know that he is talking about terrorism and all that but the law is there of the country. If he has really spoken something which actionable, police should take action. Otherwise I don’t think is not proper to berate him just because he belongs to the Muslim community or he is saying something which we don’t like. Freedom of speech, after all, means freedom for somebody to speak somebody don’t like. What we like no freedom is required. So these people who speak something against the mainstream their freedom has be safeguarded. Of course they should not be allowed to create a law and order problem. Police is there for that. I hope government give serious consideration to all this.
UP elections are to be held next year. Congress party of course is on number four position just now out of the four parties there. They are trying to find out a strategy and the strategist Prashant Kishore who wants a face which can activate the party. I am sure Raj Babbar has been made President of UP Congress party at his suggestion. He wants Priyanka Gandhi to lead the campaign, either as the chief ministerial face or at least leading the poll campaign. I don’t know how far all this will help but the fact remains that Congress needs to reposition itself, as general elections are three years away and the way the Congress is acting in this insecure, undecided and unclear manner is not a good thing for democracy. I am not concern who wins elections and who does not, but in democracy there has to be an active opposition. This is where I disagree with the Prime Minister where he says he wants a Congress Mukt Bharat. He does not understand the danger. Today if you take a public vote they want politician Mukt Bharat. It is the most dangerous thing; you want the army to take over. That answer the common man wouldn’t help but he will say all politicians are bad. You can say Congress Mukt Sarakar that is fine, you say we will fight elections and we will come to power that is your right but to go on spreading the slogan and once they carries on the RSS and they are undermining the democracy itself. They don’t understand that. How far Priyanka can succeed or rejuvenate the congress party we don’t know, but this is the internal decision of the Congress party whomever they may appoint let us watch.
By Kamal Morarka