The Union cabinet’s recommendation on Sunday that President’s rule be imposed in Arunachal Pradesh has come in for criticism from several quarters. Chief Minister Nabam Tuki of the Congress said that the decision was biased and his party accused Governor JP Rajkhowa of being an agent of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The state has been embroiled in a political drama since September, and the ruling Congress is split into two groups, one led by Chief Minister Tuki and the other by Kalikho Pul, a colleague who he ousted from his cabinet in April. The Congress has 47 members in the 60-member house. Last fortnight, 21 of them joined forces with the BJP’s 11 MLAs and two independent legislators and, at a meeting in a community hall, decided to impeach the speaker ‒ a move that has no legal validity.
The dispute is currently being heard by the Supreme Court. The court is also hearing an appeal against Governor Rajkhowa’s unilateral decision in December to advance the session of the state assembly by a month.
On Sunday, Chief Minister Tuki said that the Center should not have recommended President’s rule without consulting the state government, considering the fact that Arunachal is a sensitive border state. Accusing the Centre trying to “create law and order problem in the state”, Tuki said that it should have waited for decision of the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court.
Ahmed Patel, the chief aide of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, said that the recommendation was a “brazen attempt to murder democracy”.
The move was also castigated by other leaders of non-BJP parties, such as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
But the state BJP president Tai Tagak said that the Centre’s decision has come as a big relief to the people of the state, who have been forced to suffer “unending political upheavals” in the last few months. He said that Union government had been forced to take the decision because of the political turmoil in the state.
Professor Nani Bath of Rajiv Gandhi Central University in Itanagar said that the BJP’s recommendation about President rule had nothing to do with ideology but is a fight for power and the authority to hand out lucrative contracts for projects. While the “undemocratic activities of Congress leaders and workers might have hastened the Centre’s intervention”, Bath said that this decision signaled that “no government in the state is safe without New Delhi’s blessings”.
Dissidence against Nabam Tuki, who came to power in November 2011, first bubbled up in early 2014. Sensing trouble, he dissolved the legislative assembly months before the expiry of its term in October, and recommended that state polls simultaneously with the general elections. That decision paid off magnificently. The Congress returned with an overwhelming majority of 42 MLAs; five more legislators joined it later with the merger of the People’s Party of Arunachal.
Though he has been dogged by charges of graft and nepotism, Tuki has managed to keep his position, largely because of his apparent closeness to the Congress high command.