Following the landmark SR Bommai Judgment, the imposition of the President’s Rule became justiciable. Those with elementary understanding of law would know that the invocation of article 356 in a cavalier manner is nothing but political hara-kiri. BJP’s master strategists had seemed determined to go down a suicidal path when they imposed President’s Rule in Uttarakhand.
There was little doubt that Chief Minister Harish Rawat had lost support of the majority of legislators when his nine MLAs revolted against him. But, this was an internal crisis of the Congress party, and the Centre had no role to fish in troubled water.
The BJP sensed the kill and went for the jugular. Those within the party and acquainted with the affairs admit that the party leadership gave a go ahead to bring down the government, as the slang goes, 'by hook or by crook'. Circumstances prove that there was no dearth of inducement even from the BJP’s side.
Now with the Uttarakhand High Court order, the BJP’s penchant for this kind of pragmatism has blown up in their face. The court set aside President’s Rule in the state, and Uttarakhand became the first case where the court applied the principles laid down in the SR Bommai judgment in practical terms.
Despite clear signs that the indiscretion of the union government and the BJP would not hold ground, the BJP’s obduracy to persist with the wrong proves that it is nothing but megalomaniac hubris.
From the moment the matter was referred in court, it became evident that the government was relying on hear-says and rumours instead of valid legal arguments, to topple the Harish Rawat government in Uttarakhand.
Not even once did the Attorney General of India back his argument with facts like governor’s reports or the home ministry’s assessments about the breakdown of the constitutional machinery in the state.
On the other hand, there were enough indications to suggest that Governor KK Paul was hesitant to precipitate the crisis in Uttarakhand. Rather, he asked Harish Rawat to prove majority on the floor of the house.
And as the inter-state council recommendations and the Bommai judgment mandated that the trial of strength would be held only on the floor of the house, it was a perfectly legitimate course to take.
Nevertheless, the BJP president Amit Shah and his lieutenant, loud mouth Kailah Vijayvargiya, persuaded the union government to pull the rug from under Rawat’s feet and topple the government.
They relied on the pretext of a dubious video recording that indicated that some congress legislators were willing to switch their loyalties in exchange for huge sums of money.
Ironically, insiders of the BJP admitted that it was equally involved in horse-trading and encouraging defection though money, just like the Congress. The perceived objective of the BJP was to grab power.
What is most significant in the whole crisis is the role of the home ministry. Not even once did Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh make a comment on developments in Uttarakhand.
Apparently, the home ministry was wary of making this recommendation though ultimately succumbed to the pressure of political leadership. Rajnath Singh, however, prevented himself from being dragged into the controversy. No doubt, though, that today’s court verdict has left the BJP with egg on its face.
On a governance front, it would be seen as personal humiliation for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is expected to don a bipartisan role in his constitutional position.
There have been many instances that indicate the BJP’s clever shifts in morality. In such a situation, it would not be wrong to assume that Modi’s carefully cultivated image of promoting federalism in the country had been grossly exaggerated, and that his claims appear to be mere deception, at least in the present context.
Political exigencies of the BJP are clearly taking a toll on ethical governance and it seems that the BJP’s predatory instincts have backfired.