Rebels can't be tools for change

Rebels can't be tools for change

Rebels can't be tools for change

The Supreme Court’s verdict on Arunachal Pradesh has come as a major loss of face for the Narendra Modi government which had dismissed the Nabam Tuki government, imposed President’s rule and then supported rebel Congress leader Kalikho Pul to become chief minister.

This is the second legal battle which the BJP has lost against the Congress in a span of two months, giving strength to the opposition party’s charge that democratically-elected governments were destabilised to install non-Congress ones.

Not suprisingly, both cases involved controversial roles of governors which has come under censure from the Supreme Court.

If the Bommai judgment of the apex court in 1994 had settled the question that all tests of strength of rival claimants should be on the floor of the House, the verdict in Arunachal Pradesh – after its order on Uttarakhand crisis –has outlined dos and don’ts for the governor who have enjoyed some discretionary powers previously.

In the present case, the bench ruled that the actions of Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa were in violation of Article 163 of the Constitution, which outlines the discretionary powers of a governor.

Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa’s conduct came under scrutiny because he had advanced the date of the Assembly session by a month, to December 16, 2015.

That development saw the removal of the Speaker who was seen aligned with the Congress chief minister and finally ouster of  the latter’s government by the rebel Congress MLAs.

The Arunachal Pradesh episode preceded the Uttarakhand fiasco – with a difference.  In Arunachal Pradesh, rebel Congress MLAs sought the Centre’s help because they felt their party high command had turned a deaf ear to them.

In Uttarakhand, the BJP’s role was pro-active to mobilise a rebellion to unseat Chief Minister Harish Rawat.

But in both the cases, the strategy of supporting rebel Congress MLAs to effect a change of government was put into effect because of internal rumblings within the ruling party.

In Uttarakhand, Congress leader Harish Rawat returned as chief minister after the Supreme Court ordered revocation of President’s rule imposed by Modi-government on the basis of the governor's report. Rawat got a boost when the apex court asked for a fresh floor test while refusing to stay disqualification of nine rebel Uttarakhand Congress MLAs and allow them to participate in the trust vote.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the court ordered status quo ante, effectively restoring the state government to the position it was in before President's Rule was declared.

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