The ongoing political crisis in Uttarakhand once again reveals the utterly anti-people and anti-democratic nature of the existing political system and political process in our country.
On March 27, 2016, President’s Rule was imposed in Uttarakhand, citing the recommendation of the Governor of Uttarakhand Shri KK Paul that there had been a “constitutional breakdown”. Earlier, the same Governor had asked the Uttarakhand Chief Minister Shri Harish Rawat to prove his majority on the floor of the assembly on March 28, 2016. Now, under President's Rule, there is no question of the convening of the Assembly to decide whether the Harish Rawat government has a majority and should continue in office or not. Under President's Rule, the Central Government will rule over the state through the Governor.
The imposition of President's Rule in Uttarakhand is part of the plan of the Central government to replace the Congress government with a BJP led government, with the help of defectors. For this purpose, it has been assiduously cultivating MLAs of the ruling Congress Party to carry out a coup, promising them power and pelf, in return for participating in the BJP game plan.
In the Uttarakhand Assembly, the ruling Congress Party had the support of 43 MLAs while the BJP had 26 MLAs. To carry out the coup, the BJP pressed for a vote on the Appropriation Bill on March 18, 2016. The BJP expected to bring down the government, or at least throw it into crisis, as it had the secret support of 9 Congress MLA's. However, the Speaker declared the Appropriation Bill passed, without allowing a vote count as demanded by the BJP. This set the stage for the political crisis in the state to further unfold.
After the Uttarakhand Governor asked the Chief Minister to prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly on March 28, 2016, both the BJP and the Congress went into overdrive to achieve their respective aims. The BJP moved its 26 MLAs and the 9 Congress defectors to a 5 star hotel in Gurgaon, under the watchful protection of the BJP government of Haryana. On the other hand, the Congress moved its MLAs to a similar resort in Himachal Pradesh, under the watchful eyes of the Congress government of Himachal Pradesh. Both parties have done this to ensure that the rival party does not entice its members.
When the Harish Rawat government became convinced that it would not be able to win back the defectors, it used the Speaker's power to disqualify the 9 defectors under the anti defection law. With this one stroke, it hoped to prove its majority in the Uttarakhand Assembly on March 28, 2016.
When it became clear that the chief minister would get a majority in the house after this disqualification, the union cabinet held an emergency meeting presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the night of March 26, a day before the Chief Minister was to prove his majority in the House. On the basis of the reports of Governor K.K. Paul and a reported sting operation accusing the incumbent Chief Minister Harish Rawat of horse-trading, the union cabinet recommended imposition of President’s Rule in the state. The President signed the recommendation. In this manner, the Central Government ensured that the Harish Rawat government was not allowed to prove its majority.
Since then, the credibility crisis of the entire system has only deepened. On the basis of a petition filed by Harish Rawat, a single-member bench of the Uttarakhand High Court had ordered that a floor test be conducted to determine who has a majority in the assembly.The High court had also permitted the 9 disqualified MLAs to cast their votes, which were to be kept separately. This vote was to take place on March 31, 2016. However the central government appealed against this verdict before a two member division bench, arguing that this cannot be done under the circumstances that President’s Rule has been imposed. The proposed floor test of March 31 has been stayed.
Now, as the BJP and the Congress wage their no holds barred dog fight for who should have form the government in Uttarakhand, what is extremely clear is that neither these parties nor the courts are able to justify any of their actions on the basis of any principles. The BJP is using its control over the Central Government, as the well as the Constitutional powers that the Centre has to impose President's Rule, to ensure it will revoke President's Rule only when it is convinced it will form the next government. The BJP has justified the imposition of President's Rule in Uttarakhand and its aim of establishing a BJP led government in Uttarakhand with the help of defectors with the argument that the Congress used to do this when it was in power at the Centre! The Congress Party on the other hand, has denounced the imposition of President’s Rule as “murder of democracy”.
The developments in Uttarakhand clearly reveal how political power in constituted in our country and its utter arbitrariness. Despite all the talk of being “the world’s largest democracy”, it is being clearly revealed once again, that sovereign power vests with the President, advised by the Union Cabinet. The decision to overthrow the constitutionally elected government of Uttarakhand and impose Central rule was taken by the Union Cabinet on the recommendations of its emissary, the Governor. This decision was approved by the head of the Indian state, the President of India. The Constitution of India gives overriding powers to the Central government to dismiss state governments using Article 356. It is no secret that whichever party heads the Central Government, tries its best to install state governments lead by the same party or coalition it heads.
In the present political system and process, the role of the electorate is limited to voting. The electorate has no control over those elected. Parties such as the Congress and BJP represent the interests of the exploiting classes. They are financed by the biggest capitalist houses, and when they come to power, they implement the program of the bourgeoisie. The candidates of these parties are selected by their respective Party High commands, not by the electorate. If elected, they are not accountable to the electorate. They cannot be recalled by the electorate if their work is unsatisfactory. The main aim of the majority of MLAs and MPs is to enrich themselves as well as to serve their capitalist patrons.
Far from being a “democracy” as is claimed, the existing political system is in fact the rule of the bourgeoisie over the workers and peasants. The concentration of power in the hands of the Union Cabinet and the dog fight between the main parties of the big bourgeoisie for power at the centre are essential features of this rule. The existing political system and process enable the biggest capitalist houses to ensure their control over governments in the Centre and the states. They ensure that the broad masses of workers and peasants are completely marginalised from political power.
What India needs is a thoroughgoing renewal of the political system and process so that sovereignty, the decision making power, actually vests in the people.