There is a sense of déjà vu in the developments in Arunachal Pradesh. The story of toppling elected governments in states by a bunch of legislators subscribing to the principle of political mercenaries is not new.
Though the Congress has gone to the Supreme Court as the last resort to retain power in the state, it is unlikely to get relief when the matter is taken up today. There is every possibility that governor JP Rajkhowa will soon appoint a chief minister of his choice, duly endorsed by his political masters in Delhi, to run the state. And there is little doubt that the Raj Bhavan at Itanagar will become a palace of political intrigue where the government’s direction will be set.
Given the past experience of such political coups engineered in states by the Centre, irrespective of political denomination, it can be safely assumed that the events at Itanagar will follow a familiar script.
In six short steps, this is the way the situation will unfold in the next few days:
1) Congress rebel MLAs and BJP legislators will soon throng the palace of intrigue to forge a coalition and project a chief minister.
2) Within less than a fortnight, Rajkhowa in consultation with the home ministry in Delhi, will appoint a chief minister who will be asked to prove majority on the floor of the House.
3) A session of the Vidhan Sabha will be called where Rajkhowa will exercise his constitutional power to send a message to the House and set the agenda.
4) Instead of moving the trust-vote by the new chief minister, the House will first take up the no-trust motion against the Speaker to remove the first obstacle before the new government.
5) The removal of the Speaker will evoke strong hostilities, but will set the stage for the trust-motion for the new government with the new Speaker.
6) The new Speaker will give temporary recognition to the break-away faction by citing precedents which define “defection as a continuing process”.
This script is so familiar and has been replayed so many times that it hardly evokes any indignation now. The Congress and the BJP have learnt the art of wantonly violating the spirit of the Constitution, while seemingly adhering to letter.
What happened in Arunachal Pradesh is nothing but a subversion of popular will reflected through an elected Assembly. The Congress had won the elections and got the mandate to rule the state. It is equally true that the Congress legislature party was vertically split after Chief Minister Nabam Tuki sacked his finance minister Kaiko Pul. The split rendered the Congress a minority with rebels openly siding with the BJP.
Political morality would have dictated that the Congress acknowledged its minority status in the House. Similarly, the BJP should have avoided the temptation to entice the rebels and topple the government through machinations, and not by the ballot. But such an expectation from either the BJP or the Congress will be quite like asking the devil to quote the scriptures.
There is no doubt that after the SC judgment on SR Bommai case that made imposition of president’s rule as justiciable, the exercise of Article 356 at random by the Centre become impossible.
It also has to be ratified mandatorily by both Houses of Parliament. Given the BJP’s minority in the Rajya Sabha, the notification would not get the endorsement of the Rajya Sabha. But that formality is not required if the government is formed at Arunachal Pradesh.
That is why we will have a new government in Arunachal Pradesh by mauling the Constitution, sooner than later.