news analysis

What is the BJP's game plan in imposing President's rule in Uttarakhand?

Saffron party chooses to deny Congress government its chance to prove its strength on the floor of the house.

Is the Bharatiya Janata Party attempting to replicate the Arunachal Pradesh model in Uttarakhand?

The Modi government’s decision to impose Central rule in Uttarakhand on Sunday, the day before the Congress-led Harish Rawat government was to face a floor test and keep the Assembly in suspended animation, suggests as much.

This is particularly so as the proclamation of President’s rule in a state has to be ratified by both houses of Parliament within two months of notification. The National Democratic Alliance government will find it difficult to get Parliamentary approval as it does not have the requisite numbers in the Rajya Sabha.

The second half of the ongoing budget session is to commence on April 25. The BJP is expected to step up efforts to form an alternative government in the coming weeks to avoid going to Parliament for the ratification of President’s rule in Uttarakhand.

Tested strategy

The BJP had used the same strategy in Arunachal Pradesh last month. It imposed President’s rule in the North Eastern state but ensured that a new government was in place before Parliament convened for the budget session on February 23. The BJP did not form the government in Itanagar. Instead, its 11 legislators extended outside support to dissident Congress MLAs to enable them to form a new government. The Congress dragged the BJP to court in this matter but the apex court rejected its plea that it should be allowed to go in for a floor test in the assembly to prove its majority.

In Uttarakhand, governor KK Paul had directed Chief Minister Rawat to prove his majority in the Assembly on March 28 after nine Congress MLAs revolted against him. The BJP wanted the Rawat government to be dismissed, claiming that it was in a minority. The two sides have been involved in a war of words over the past few days with the situation becoming particularly dirty after the rebel legislators released a sting video on Saturday which reportedly showed Rawat indulging in horse-trading.

In a surprise move on Sunday, the BJP-led NDA government decided to recommend imposition of President’s rule without waiting for the floor test sought by the governor. This indicates that the BJP did not want the vote to take place as it feared that Rawat could pull off a victory after the Uttarakhand Speaker moved to disqualify the nine rebel Congress MLAs. Their disqualification would have reduced the strength of the 70-member assembly to 61. Rawat’s supporters maintained he could pass the floor test as he had the support of 33 legislators, which included 27 Congress legislators and six members of the Progressive Democratic Front. The BJP has 28 legislators in the assembly.

The imposition of President’s rule has given the BJP some breathing space. The party now has more time to wean away more Congress MLAs in the coming days on the plea that they would be forced to face an early election if a new government is not formed. Although the next Assembly elections is only a year away, legislators may be tempted to switch sides as nobody wants his tenure to be cut short.

Targetting Rahul Gandhi

Besides wanting to highlight that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is not in control, the BJP also wanted to cut Rawat to size before next year’s assembly polls. The BJP believes it will be at an advantage if it has its own government in place before the elections as it will then have control over the state machinery. It could also use the sting video to embroil Rawat in a legal case in its effort to discredit him. This is important for the BJP as Rawat is counted as the state’s tallest leader, with a considerable mass following. On the other hand, the BJP cannot boast of any credible state leaders.

At the same time, the BJP hopes that the Uttarakhand episode, followed by the fiasco in Arunachal Pradesh, will show the Congress in poor light in next month’s assembly polls in Assam, Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. The BJP has virtually no stakes in these elections but the Congress has to defend its state governments in Kerala and Assam. A defeat will not only reduce the number of state governments in the Congress kitty but it will also have an adverse impact at the national level. Congress cadres will become more restive and Rahul Gandhi will come under further pressure to prove himself. The BJP hopes an electoral setback would also force the Congress to tone down its offensive against the Modi government as it will have to necessarily focus on putting its own house in order first.

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Some of the worst decisions made in history

From the boardroom to the battlefield, bad decisions have been a recipe for disaster

On New Year’s Day, 1962, Dick Rowe, the official talent scout for Decca Records, went to office, little realising that this was to become one of the most notorious days in music history. He and producer Mike Smith had to audition bands and decide if any were good enough to be signed on to the record label. At 11:00 am, either Rowe or Smith, history is not sure who, listened a group of 4 boys who had driven for over 10 hours through a snowstorm from Liverpool, play 15 songs. After a long day spent listening to other bands, the Rowe-Smith duo signed on a local group that would be more cost effective. The band they rejected went on to become one of the greatest acts in musical history – The Beatles. However, in 1962, they were allegedly dismissed with the statement “Guitar groups are on the way out”.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Decca’s decision is a classic example of deciding based on biases and poor information. History is full of examples of poor decisions that have had far reaching and often disastrous consequences.

In the world of business, where decisions are usually made after much analysis, bad decisions have wiped out successful giants. Take the example of Kodak – a company that made a devastating wrong decision despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Everyone knows that Kodak couldn’t survive as digital photography replaced film. What is so ironic that Alanis Morissette could have sung about it, is that the digital camera was first invented by an engineer at Kodak as early as 1975. In 1981, an extensive study commissioned by Kodak showed that digital was likely to replace Kodak’s film camera business in about 10 years. Astonishingly, Kodak did not use this time to capitalise on their invention of digital cameras – rather they focused on making their film cameras even better. In 1996, they released a combined camera – the Advantix, which let users preview their shots digitally to decide which ones to print. Quite understandably, no one wanted to spend on printing when they could view, store and share photos digitally. The Advantix failed, but the company’s unwillingness to shift focus to digital technology continued. Kodak went from a 90% market share in US camera sales in 1976 to less than 10% in 2012, when it filed for bankruptcy. It sold off many of its biggest businesses and patents and is now a shell of its former self.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Few military blunders are as monumental as Napoleon’s decision to invade Russia. The military genius had conquered most of modern day Europe. However, Britain remained out of his grasp and so, he imposed a trade blockade against the island nation. But the Russia’s Czar Alexander I refused to comply due to its effect on Russian trade. To teach the Russians a lesson, Napolean assembled his Grand Armée – one of the largest forces to ever march on war. Estimates put it between 450,000 to 680,000 soldiers. Napoleon had been so successful because his army could live off the land i.e. forage and scavenge extensively to survive. This was successful in agriculture-rich and densely populated central Europe. The vast, barren lands of Russia were a different story altogether. The Russian army kept retreating further and further inland burning crops, cities and other resources in their wake to keep these from falling into French hands. A game of cat and mouse ensued with the French losing soldiers to disease, starvation and exhaustion. The first standoff between armies was the bloody Battle of Borodino which resulted in almost 70,000 casualties. Seven days later Napoleon marched into a Moscow that was a mere shell, burned and stripped of any supplies. No Russian delegation came to formally surrender. Faced with no provisions, diminished troops and a Russian force that refused to play by the rules, Napolean began the long retreat, back to France. His miseries hadn’t ended - his troops were attacked by fresh Russian forces and had to deal with the onset of an early winter. According to some, only 22,000 French troops made it back to France after the disastrous campaign.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to sports, few long time Indian cricket fans can remember the AustralAsia Cup final of 1986 without wincing. The stakes were extremely high – Pakistan had never won a major cricket tournament, the atmosphere at the Sharjah stadium was electric, the India-Pakistan rivalry at its height. Pakistan had one wicket in hand, with four runs required off one ball. And then the unthinkable happened – Chetan Sharma decided to bowl a Yorker. This is an extremely difficult ball to bowl, many of the best bowlers shy away from it especially in high pressure situations. A badly timed Yorker can morph into a full toss ball that can be easily played by the batsman. For Sharma who was then just 18 years old, this was an ambitious plan that went wrong. The ball emerged as a low full toss which Miandad smashed for a six, taking Pakistan to victory. Almost 30 years later, this ball is still the first thing Chetan Sharma is asked about when anyone meets him.

So, what leads to bad decisions? While these examples show the role of personal biases, inertia, imperfect information and overconfidence, bad advice can also lead to bad decisions. One of the worst things you can do when making an important decision is to make it on instinct or merely on someone’s suggestion, without arming yourself with the right information. That’s why Aegon Life puts the power in your hands, so you have all you need when choosing something as important as life insurance. The Aegon Life portal has enough information to help someone unfamiliar with insurance become an expert. So empower yourself with information today and avoid decisions based on bad advice. For more information on the iDecide campaign, see here.

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