A day after the Union Cabinet recommended imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh, President Pranab Mukherjee sought clarifications Monday from Home Minister Rajnath Singh while the Congress challenged the Centre’s move in the Supreme Court and sought the President’s intervention.
Singh met Mukherjee to explain the rationale behind the Cabinet decision. BJP sources said the Home Minister told the President that the “situation” in the state had deteriorated.
But an angry Congress hit back and tried to rally other Opposition parties, saying the Centre was not just targeting the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh but was out to destabilise all Opposition-ruled states.
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Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter: “Modiji you talk about federalism but murder democracy. You talk about cooperation but use every means to coerce. Imposing President’s rule in Arunachal is a blatant bid to topple a duly elected Government. The Congress Party will fight this attack on our constitution, on our democracy, on the people’s mandate.”
After a 30-minute meeting with the President, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Congress would raise the issue in Parliament during the Budget session next month. He said the Congress expected support from all parties barring the BJP.
“This government does not believe in Parliament, democracy or the judiciary… We will fight against the government, inside and outside Parliament, and in the court,” Azad said.
“In Parliament, we were supported by all political parties other than the ruling party. And I am sure that in the coming session too, all political parties will support us because of the way they have destabilised the Arunachal Pradesh government… the agenda is not only to destabilise a Congress government, but all Opposition-ruled states. So this is an onslaught against all Opposition-ruled states… destabilise Opposition-ruled states through the Governors.”
In a memorandum to the President, the Congress said the Constitution Bench was looking into the decision of the Governor to advance the assembly session.
“In the midst of the hearing, the recommendation… for imposition of President’s Rule is disturbing, to say the least. Perhaps the government does not wish the court to adjudicate upon the matter by presenting it with a fait accompli of a proclamation under Article 356. This is the first time since Independence that such a recommendation has been made to impose President’s Rule in the midst of a court hearing,” the memorandum stated.
The Congress also moved the Supreme Court, challenging the Cabinet’s recommendation. The petition was filed by the state Congress chief whip Bamang Felix and an urgent hearing was sought. Chief Minister Nabam Tuki met Congress president Sonia Gandhi to apprise her of the developments.
The Left and JD(U) slammed the BJP over the move to bring Arunachal Pradesh under President’s Rule. CPI national secretary D Raja said the BJP had “flouted all norms of parliamentary democracy to topple the state government and create conditions” for its entry.
JD(U) leader K C Tyagi, condemning the “first constitutional sin” of the BJP government, said the decision was “an attempt to sabotage the constitutional mandate, not justified in democracy and shows the BJP’s mindset towards cooperative federalism”.
Upping the ante against the BJP, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal released the transcript of what he claimed was a taped conversation between dissident MLA Kalikho Pul and a businessman. Sibal alleged that Pul sought the businessman’s support to topple the government and claimed he had the support of the BJP and RSS.
Sibal said the Arunachal Pradesh crisis was the “result of appointing Governors who have been groomed by the RSS… they are converting the office of the Governor to an office where only RSS members will sit and take forward the RSS agenda… this is a very serious matter and we are going to challenge it”.
“All non-BJP chief ministers should sit together and all political parties in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha should together raise this issue in the House,” he said.
Launching a counter-attack, BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi accused the Congress of “misleading” the nation. He said the Congress should explain why its government in the state “ran away” from convening the assembly session.
“Congress has been consistently trying to mislead. The crisis started with a series of corruption charges and resentment against the Congress leadership in the state. It was rather an internal crisis,” he said.
Questioning the state government’s “refusal” to convene the assembly, Trivedi said the Congress has “no answer” since “a government cannot remain in office if it does not call a session of the House within six months of the last session”.