‘Murder of democracy’ has become a street talk in the country in recent days. The events around which this phrase revolves are various. The recent use of article 356 in Uttarakhand has set the debate of use & abuse of presidential rule once again on fire. On Sunday, March 27, 2016, in a dramatic way, the centre has floored the Harish Rawat government. To the surprise of people, the decision of dismissing the state government came just a day before the scheduled day of floor test in the assembly. Congress and some eminent personalities in media are shouting the ‘murder of democracy’. Well, they have all the liberty to do so. Harish Rawat is already red-faced being caught playing horse-horse to save his chair at any cost. Moreover, the Congress is on the back-foot (and implicitly admitting that their leadership has gone into emergency mode) with their leadership. Let us analyse the events and also the ‘murder of democracy’.
Before I begin, let us acknowledge that the Uttarakhand high court has ordered a floor test on March 31. It has given the Rawat government another chance to save one ‘congress ruled state’. However, the court order has also restored the voting rights of those nine rebels who pushed the government to a minority. These rebel MLAs found themselves dismissed in an ambiguous manner. We have to wait and watch till the coming floor test that what happens next in the state at a chaos.
Let us get into the details of the article 356 of the Indian constitution. The article 356 entitles the central government to dismiss a state government under certain conditions. You can understand the provisions here: http://www.constitution.org/cons/india/p18356.html
Till the date, more than 100 times the article 356 has been used by the central government to take over the control in the states. Not to our surprise, most of the times, the Congress central government has used this article. During the first decade of our democracy, the Nehru government used this article six times. It also included the dismissal of ‘first ever duly elected communist government in Kerala’ in 1959. Coming down to 60s, this article was used 11 times. Not to forget, when India Gandhi had the driver seat, this article was used 7 times ‘between 1967 and 1969 only’. Most of us, who have interest in politics, cannot forget the turmoil of the 70s. 19 times, between 1970 and 1974, the article 356 was bulldozed on different state governments. Following the footprints of their predecessors, the Janta Party government of 1977 fully utilized this ‘article of demolition (at times)’ and dismissed nine Congress ruled states in the country. Wrong if I forget to mention, the reaction saw president’s rule in 9 states when Indira returned to the ‘throne’ in 1980. How could Narasimha Rao lag behind? He accessed the archives with the dismissal of three BJP governments during 1992-93. The reasons supplied that these actions occurred ‘in the wake of the Babri masjid demolition’. You can better decide what kind of a tool article 356 is…
The present condition in the state of Uttarakhand is utterly chaotic. Harish Rawat has been caught on the backfoot and so is the central government. The sting that showed Rawat negotiating for the price of MLAs has been proved to be authentic. Rahul Kanwal, a senior journalist has tweeted about it:
Now, the floor test that is to happen tomorrow (if BJP loses cannot defend its position in the court today), is that not a murder of democracy? Who will wish to have a CM who buys MLAs? Who will want a state to be ruled by a person called Rawat who indulges in horse trading to save his position at any possible cost? The role of speaker is also dubious in the whole incident that took place in Uttarakhand. Nevertheless, if BJP is mulling to take over the Congress-ruled states by hook or crook, they are erring! Modi must not repeat what Indira did in her prime days. Go into elections; win the hearts of the voters; work hard, and the power is yours. Power is yours not to do what you want, but to do what people wanted you to do and they trusted you worthy of their precious votes.