Rajya Sabha on Thursday witnessed a face-off between Opposition and government over dismissal of Congress dispensations in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, bringing into close scrutiny the role of governors. The main opposition party alleged “trampling” of democracy by the BJP-led government which hit back by reminding that Congress had “butchered” democracy by misusing Article 356 about 100 times.
Congress pressed for a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue, since he talks of “cooperative federalism”. The clash took place as the House took up a discussion on ‘Developments in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh leading to change in governments there and the role of Governors in the respective States’. What happened in the two states was a “brazen violation of Constitution” and “insult to democracy”, said Deputy Leader of Congress Anand Sharma while initiating the debate.
“What happened in Arunachal late last year followed by Uttarakhand in Janauary this year shocked the country and invited censure of the Supreme Court and High Court of Uttarakhand,” he said.
Questioning the role of Governors, the former minister said he or she is “not supposed to interfere in day-to-day functioning…take unilateral decisions… Constitution was not respected…It is insult to peoples mandate.”
Citing the developments in both the states, he said Governors do not meddle in politics or undermine elected governments but “brazen violation of constitution” occured in both the states. He alleged that the Governors in both the states “willingly became tools to pursue nefarious agenda of the
ruling party”. Citing the Supreme Court orders on the dismissal of governments in these two states, Sharma asked why no action was taken against Uttarakhand Governor.
“Sack that Governor. Remove him. If he continues to hold the post you are insulting constitution,” Sharma said. “What happened was shameful. The government conduct was outrageous… Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks of constitutional federalism…At the same time ruling party president talks of Congress-mukt Bharat…that is the official position of the ruling party and its national executive…this is insult to democracy and misuse of authority to destabilise elected governments.”
Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu intervened to say that it is “the Devil quoting the scriptures”. This was objected to by the Congress after which Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said he will examine whether it fell under unparliamentary language. Naidu said, “Issue is …does the Congress party have any moral right to raise this. It has misused Article 356 at least 90 to 100 times…Such party is giving sermons.”