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Queuing up a New Rule

By M.C. Linthoingambee

The President is often the person of the hour when things go wrong in exercising the constitutional machinery in any existing Indian State. And so yet again, we are to make amends with the President’s Rule. This particular rule is stated under Article 356 of the Constitution of India, giving myriad powers to the President of India to exercise a dynamic role play. The theory underlying the enforcement is the impotency of the government existing in that State, wherein they have not performed their functions in deliberation of the Constitution. The reckoning is that of the State becoming a subset of the direct control of the Central Government through the Governor, appointed by the Centre for that State. The recent unkempt theory to this application is in Andhra Pradesh as a conclusion to the many in doubts that laid back the recommendation on imposition of this rule with the ongoing issue related to the adjustment of the Telangana Bill in declaring it as the 29th State of the Indian Constituency. This turmoil paved way with the political setback suffered after the Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy resigned and quit the Congress in protest against the decision of dividing the State of Andhra Pradesh into two two pieces. Who’s to blame when someone is breaking away your house in two? What does one achieve with the feud over territorial division, pleasure is it?

But when was President`s Rule ever used for the first time? The first showcase began in the year of 1957 with several States being host clients in achieving the rule. What leads us to such queering rule, the reasons are many and circulated where different circumstances lie. The reasons could be where the State Legislature is unable to elect a leader as Chief Minister; where there was a breakdown in the coalition block, where elections for Assembly polls and ministerial candidacy were postponed. In the walk down memory lane flowing deeply in to the arms of the mid-1990s, the religiously often prediction of imposing this rule through states was the abuse of the authority of Governors in collusion with the federal government. Hopefully, this particular domain abuse has been drastically inclined and decline following a landmark judgment by the Supreme Court of India in March 1994 in the case of S.R Bommai v. Union of India, which very much established strict guidelines for imposing the rule. Article 356 has always been the atom around which other nuclei revolve holding wider debate of the federal structure of governance in Indian Polity. The distinction between the Union, State and the Concurrent List whereby the distinction of law making power rests lies in the concept of separation of powers between the Centre and State with the delegation of power serving as a major cause. Should this only be a one party control? No, I for one am glad for this particular archaic turn.  The Sarkaria Commission on this vehement relationship has recommended for this Article to be used “very sparingly, in extreme cases, as a measure of last resort, when all alternatives fail to prevent or rectify a breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state”. In short, we should simply when all curtains close the hope turns black.

The most cynical part of the story is the number of times our own State of Manipur has been blinded by the same curtain. In the transformation of our State from the early days of being a Union Territory was wielded by the test of the President’s Rule from Jan 12, 1967 to March 19, 1967 in relation to the first elections to the Manipur Union and the holding of the territorial assembly. As per reliable sources, the Chronology follows the time travel from the origin of October 25, 1967 to February 18, 1968 where the short living ministry collapsed following resignation of the state speaker resulting in neither ruling nor opposition congress having a clear majority in the assembly wherein they were kept in suspended animation. From October 17, 1969 to March 22, 1972 leading to the violent secessionist insurgency and statehood demands resulted in breakdown of law and order; from March 28, 1973 to March 3, 1974 lead to President`s rule being imposed even though the opposition had a “tenuous” majority and could have formed a government; the period from May 16, 1977 to June 28, 1977 led to the collapse of Government following defections, in the period from November 14, 1979 to January 13, 1980 there was dioscontent within the Janata Part Government and corruption charges led to dismissal of government and dissolution of Assembly, the period from February 28, 1981 to June 18, 1981 led to the incumbent Government falling immensely following defections where the Governor did not permit an alternate government to be formed by People`s Democratic Front on the basis of his assessment regarding stability of the proposed ministry. In the range of Jan 7 1992 to April 7, 1992 the incumbent coalition Government fell following defections. President`s rule imposed keeping assembly in suspension; the continued version of communal violence occurred in the nature of Naga-Kuki clashes leading to the death of 1000 persons in the year December 31, 1993 to December 13, 1994 and the last dated record is held in the time frame of June 2, 2001 to March 6, 2002 there was loss of majority leading to the imposition of the rule.

I am not able to remember what went on during these time periods but for what is worth good governance is best imparted in the people where every person performs their duty as a Citizen effectively. It is for this reason that a family survives under the ruling party of a certain someone say a dad, so it is best imparted on him to working to secure we stay safe, when this role play is the duty of the Chief of a State and they cannot fulfill this obligation, the President’s Rule steps in.



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