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Arunachal: Big stakes for Prez, Modi, Congress

By Rajeev Sharma
January 27, 2016 09:00 IST
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'If the Congress allows Arunachal Pradesh to slip out of its control, then it sends negative signals to its leaders and allies across the country,' says Rajeev Sharma.

Demonstrators protest in Arunachal Pradesh. Photograph: PTI

IMAGE: Then chief minister Nabam Tuki's supporters block the highway at Papu Nallah in Naharlagun, Itanagar. Photograph: PTI

 

Finally, President's rule has been imposed on Arunachal Pradesh, a sensitive state which borders China. It is a decision which impacts three stakeholders: President Pranab Mukherjee, the Modi government and the Congress party.

First of all, there is the President himself and Pranab Mukherjee is an important stakeholder in the entire drama.

Last, but not the least, there is the main Opposition party, the Congress, which is the most affected party as it had been ruling Arunachal Pradesh before the current conundrum started.

1. President Pranab Mukherjee

The President had done his bit when he asked Home Minister Rajnath Singh to explain the reasons for imposing President's rule in Arunachal Pradesh. He must be acutely aware that the matter is before the Constitution Bench in the apex court which is going to hear the case in the next few days and may well quash the Cabinet decision of imposing President's rule in the state.

Yet, President Mukherjee has played ball with the Modi government and cooperated. It may well be a subtle political tactic!

It will have to be seen how the Supreme Court decides the issue. If the apex court upturns the Cabinet's decision the President's initial doubts would have been redressed.

After all, it is rare that the President questions the government and whenever he does there is fair reason for doing so. The President speaks in measured tones within the parameters delineated by the Constitution.

2. Modi government's stakes

Clearly, the Modi government is not unmindful of all the controversies and the legal and Constitutional stakes. It is also not unaware of the fact that its executive decisions may well be reversed by the Supreme Court. And yet it has taken this call!

Obviously, the BJP's gamble is a political one. The erstwhile Arunachal chief minister Nabam Tuki of the Congress initiated the political drama by his sheer incompetence as he allowed dissension within his party and the government to reach such a stage that the BJP saw a major political opportunity of forming its government in the state.

The Congress rebels and the number of BJP legislators in the assembly were found to be just enough to upstage the Congress government and form a BJP government in India's Land of the Rising Sun.

The Congress party has been projecting the Arunachal Pradesh goings on as yet another act of intolerance by the BJP-RSS, charging the duo of upstaging all non-BJP governments in the North-East.

This is big fish versus small fish kind of politics! After all, it is only the fittest who can survive!

3. The Congress party

The Congress, the principal Opposition party without an official tag, has cried itself hoarse over the Arunachal Pradesh issue.

It has challenged the Modi government's decision of imposing President's rule in Arunachal Pradesh in the Supreme Court and mobilized like-minded non-BJP parties for support.

Clearly, it is a high stakes gamble for the 130-year-old party. If it allows Arunachal Pradesh to slip out of its control, then it sends negative signals to its leaders and allies across the country. This is something it can ill afford. That is why it has taken the Arunachal battle to all possible theatres and left no stone unturned.

The only hope for the Congress party is the Supreme Court and how the apex court deliberates on the issue. If it wins its case in the Supreme Court, it will be a vital face saver for the party.

But if it were to lose its case in the apex court, the Modi-led BJP would be emboldened.

In either case, the Supreme Court's verdict on the matter will be of huge national importance.

Rajeev Sharma is an independent journalist who tweets @Kishkindha

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