Heated discussion in RS on Arunachal, U’khand issue

Rajat Kain

Harish-Rawat-10-JanpathThe principal opposition party strongly took on the ruling BJP in Rajya Sabha, which took up a short duration discussion on the role of governors in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, which saw imposition of the President’s rule and the dismissal of incumbent Congress governments. Citing the misuse of authority, the Congress party pressed for an action against the Governors.

Though the Congress-run governments of both Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand were restored by the Supreme Court, the controversy has given way to a bitter political tiff between the Congress and the BJP.

“I want to put it right before this house that why no action has been taken against the Governor? That governor should be removed… If that governor continues in his position, it will be an insult to the constitutional bench and an insult even to the constitution,” Congress’ deputy leader Anand Sharma said concluding his statement.

“The Governor is not suppose to interfere in day to day functioning of the elected governments, in their functioning or take decisions unilaterally for which there is no constitutional mandate the Governor has,” he said on the floor of Rajya Sabha.

Another senior Congress MP Kapil Sibal demanded an answer from the Prime Minister over the issue. Flaying the BJP, he alleged that it has a gameplan to destabilise the state governments ruled by the Congress or any other opposition parties.

Earlier, beginning the short-duration discussion on the subject, Anand Sharma said that entire nation was “shocked” with the developments in the two states.

FILE: Itanagar: File photo of the Mahila Congress workers holding placards protest against state Governor J P Rajkhowa  in front of Raj Bhawan main gate in Itanagar on Thursday, December 17, 2015. Photo - PTI

FILE: Itanagar: File photo of the Mahila Congress workers holding placards protest against state Governor J P Rajkhowa in front of Raj Bhawan main gate in Itanagar on Thursday, December 17, 2015.
Photo – PTI

Responding to Anand Sharma, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu sought to turn the tables accusing the Congress of “misusing” Article 356 nearly “100 times”.

“It is not the first time Article 356 is used, not a first time the any Central government have intervened at any particular stage in the state… Congress party has done this all these years. Several non-Congress governments became casualties because of your political considerations,” Naidu said criticising the Congress party.

Referring to the instances of imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the senior BJP leader put the onus on internal squabbling within the Congress party.

“It was your problem and we were compelled to step into it because of the constitutional break-down…” Naidu said defending the action to recommend President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh.

“We believe in cooperative federalism, we want to take states along with us… we are following the Team India spirit… So you please cooperate and set your own house in order. Rest we can all address it together,” Naidu said replying to the Congress party’s contention.

Participating in the debate, Samajwadi Party’s Neeraj Shekhar expressed concerns about the developments in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh and said several ruling parties have misused Article 356 for its political gains.

“You said sabka saath sabka vikas…But you are doing what Congress did. You changed governors soon after coming to power,” he said demanding the scrapping of Article 356. He further took on BJP citing that Governor of UP, an erstwhile BJP politician, keeps criticising the UP government.

“Governor should stay away from politics. You should not be using the office of governor for political purpose. You are calling people in Raj Bhavan and commenting on the functioning of UP government and even the Chief Minister,” Shekhar added.

Several other leaders and MPs across the parties spoke on the issue before the house witnessed pandemonium with Congress party seeking Union Home minister Rajnath Singh’s statement post his return from Islamabad. But Deputy Chairperson PJ Kurien ruled out their demand and allowed MoS Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, who was fielded by the government, to make his statement.

Amid protest and sloganeering from the Congress MPs, Rijiju gave his statement over the issue.