President's rule was imposed in Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday after President Pranab Mukherjee gave assent to the Union Cabinet's recommendation on such a course following political instability in the state.
Earlier on Monday, the better part of Kapil Sibal's specially convened press conference on Union cabinet's recommendation to impose President's Rule in Arunachal Pradesh was focused on the charge that Modi government was being "politically intolerant" and was misusing office of Governor to destabilise non-BJP state governments. Interestingly, for long decades, such charges were against Congress governments at the Centre.
The Congress's media briefing came amid reports that President Pranab Mukherjee has sought certain clarification on Cabinet recommendation for imposition of President's Rule in the border state. Home Minister Rajnath Singh met the President to explain government's position. The Congress president Sonia Gandhi had earlier petitioned President on the subject seeking his intervention on the subject. She petitioned him yet again, this time around to convince him as to why he should reject advise of Union cabinet and refuse to sign on the dotted line.
The Congress party's official Twitter handle has made a series of tweets on highlights of Sibal's press conference. But they don't answer some critical questions --
First, is there a constitutional crisis or not in Arunachal Pradesh?
Second, has the Congress not created a constitutional crisis?
Third, is there not a serious in-house conflict within ranks of Congress Legislature Party?
Fourth, has Congress' Nabam Tuki not lost confidence of majority members of the House in Arunachal Pradesh and been reduced to a minority?
Fifth, does a government which does not enjoy support of majority of House in assembly has a right to rule the state?
Sixth, why has the Congress not convened its own legislature party meeting to clear the air on its leader's status?
Seventh, is it not a fact that 21 Congress MLAs have rebelled against their own government and joined hands with 11 BJP MLAs and 2 Independent MLAs in 60 member state assembly?
Eighth and most important, has Chief Minister Tuki not created a constitutional crisis by not allowing convening of an Assembly session even as six months have passed since the time last Assembly session was convened. The deadline for convening assembly session passed on 21 January. Last assembly session was held on 21 July.
Article 174 (1) of Indian Constitution says: "The Governor shall from time to time summon the House or each House of the Legislature of the State to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, but six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session." The crux of this Constitutional provision is that six months shall not intervene between the last sitting of the Legislative Assembly in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next Session. In case of Arunachal this critical provision has clearly been flouted and forms one of the principal reasons why Modi government, based on report of Arunachal Pradesh Governor has sought imposition of President's Rule In the state.
Sources said the President Pranab Mukherjee is taking his time because he has to examine legal constitutional provisions before he acts on advise of the Union Council of Ministers since Congress president had on 16 December 2014 had led a delegation to him claiming that the constitutional provisions was being subverted. She and other Congress leaders have met him a second time in this regard. He thus wants to satisfy himself of the ground situation and also provisions of law so that his position is not embarrassed as had happened in case of APJ Abdul Kalam acting on recommendations of Manmohan Singh government had signed on dotted lines for imposition of President's Rule in Bihar even as he was touring abroad. The Supreme Court had later made some critical remarks against imposition of President's Rule in that state.
Congress's main argument against Governor Rajkhowa, a former chief secretary of Assam, is that he convened assembly session to take up no confidence motion against Speaker Nabam Rebia, first cousin of Chief Minister Nabam Tuki one month ahead of the schedule, 16 December than what was otherwise scheduled 14 January. The Governor ordered that a resolution seeking the removal of Speaker Nabam Rebia “shall be the first item on the agenda of the House”, and the Deputy Speaker “shall preside over the House from the first moment of first sitting”. The resolution on the Speaker’s removal must be discussed and voted upon in the very first sitting.
In November a section of Congress rebels and BJP MLAs had moved a motion of no-confidence against the Speaker.
Since the Speaker was unyielding in convening the session to take up the motion, these MLAs petitioned the Governor who obliged them after taking his own time in coming to this conclusion. There are established norms that if there is motion of no confidence against the Speaker then that motion will override all other motions and will have to be taken up at the earliest opportunity. But surely was not being done.
The ruling Congress dispensation then locked the Arunachal Pradesh assembly premises, not even allowing entry of MLAs led to an unprecedented situation of the 21 rebel Congress MLAs, 11 BJP and 2 Independents meeting at a private place and declare that the incumbent Speaker and Chief Minister ousted. That was a wrong thing to do but it was equally wrong to lock assembly premises and not allow the session to be held.
There was a suggestion that a one-day assembly session to be convened on 19 January to avoid an emerging constitutional crisis but the Congress didn't agree to take up no-confidence motion against the Speaker.
Those at the helm of affairs can consider of a repeat of what had happened in Uttar Pradesh assembly way back in February 1998 after then governor Romesh Bhandari had dismissed Kalyan Singh and appointed Jagdambika Pal as chief minister. The Allahabad High Court then ordered that a composite floor test be done to elect chief minister -- whosoever between Jagdambika Pal and Kalyan Singh wins. Kalyan Singh won in that floor test, setting a healthy precedent where the House elected the chief minister. Can something like this happen in Arunachal.