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Arunachal crisis:congress have no one to blame but itself

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Arunachal BJP may be accused of flaming the deflection in Congress but centre and governor played by the constitutional rule book both in spirit and letter. If Congress has to blame anyone it should blame itself for not being able to solve its factionalism. The crisis could had been easily solved by calling its legislature meeting to choose legislature leader but Congress avoided to call the same. Part of blame also rests with judiciary for delaying the matter to an extent that president rule was un-avoidable.

Arunachal Pradesh has 60 assembly seats of which INC won 42 but with merger of Arunachal People’s Party with all of its 5 MLA its strength rose to 47. BJP has 11 seats while 2 members are independent. Differences between CM Tuki and his finance minister Pul led to removal of Pul and many of his supporters from cabinet. Amidst all these 2 MLA resigned from their seats that were accepted by speaker thus reducing Congress strength to 45 in 58 member assembly. But a high drama followed afterwards, with both members writing letter to speaker to withdraw their resignation by saying that they were forced to resign by CM. When speaker refused to entertain their plea they approached the HC. HC stayed the speaker’s order of termination of their membership till the final decision on matter. On other hand Ex-finance minister approached governor with support of 20 other members and backed by BJP members requesting to convene a session to take impeachment motion against speaker and no confidence motion against Tuki government. Governor advanced the assembly session to 16 December with a direction to assembly to take impeachment motion against speaker before any other motion.

But before assembly session could have been convened, speaker Rebia who happened to be a cousin of the CM, disqualification 14 rebel members on 15th Dec and put the assembly hall under lock and key. Furious by action of speaker, 21 rebel Congress MLA, 11 BJP and 2 independent members assembled in hotel conference room and passed impeachment motion against speaker and no confidence motion against Tuki government that was presided by deputy speaker. Deputy speaker also revoked disqualification of 14 rebel MLA’s.

Speaker approached Gauhati HC against Governor alleging that Governor acted against constitution by advancing the assembly session without the advice of Council of Ministers. Gauhati HC firstly put on hold all decisions including the impeachment and no confidence motion till further orders but later on rejected speaker’s plea and upheld the Governor’s decision. Gauhati HC ruled that Governor has power to summon the session under article 174(1) and can send message to take specific item of legislature under article 175(2). Speaker had appealed against it in SC.

As it appeared that Tuki government was in minority, Governor used his discretion and asked the Tuki government to prove its majority as ruled by apex court in various judgements that majority can only be tested on floor of the house. In 1979 when Charan Singh was sworn as PM he lacked the majority so he didn’t advice president to summon the parliament session, thus effectively running minority government. After that it became precedence that president asks PM to prove majority as early as possible and summon the parliament. Same is followed by governor in state.

Also governor had rightly directed to take motion of impeachment against speaker first as when notice for impeachment motion against speaker is there he can’t be said to be acting in non partisan way. So disqualification of 14 rebel members was not in spirit of law by Rebia. As case is now pending in SC we have to wait for its decision whether it upholds speaker decision or quash it. Future of Arunachal government is dependent on that decision.

With the validity of Dec 16 session under question, Arunachal was headed towards constitutional crisis and centre had no other option but to impose president rule as 6 months have been passed since last sitting of assembly if Dec 16 session is considered invalid and if that session is declared valid by SC then also there was no other option than president rule as in that case Tuki government is in proven minority. Judiciary should share the blame of the crisis as it is more than a month but still no decision has been passed by court, when it was clear that it was a question of utmost importance. SC should had called regular hearing of the case instead of postponing it.

With regard to other reasons mentioned in report to impose 356 in state, some are naïve like that state fared badly in development and public services. These charges even if true is administrative breakdown and apex court has clearly ruled out that article 356 can be used only in case of constitutional breakdown. Governor has also mentioned in its report that congress legislature led by Tuki had blocked the Raj Bhawan and sacrificed Mithun in front of Raj Bhawan in protest and also tried to communalize the state by mentioning the Assamese root of governor. These may not be fit case to impose the article 356 but it shows that Tuki government has a little respect for constitutional authority. But some charges, that cabinet were not responding to letters of governor and had also directed officers not to respond to governor are serious and these if true amount to flouting of article 167(b) and another fit case for president rule.

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