Published On: Tue, Jan 13th, 2015

Governor’s rule is in fact BJP rule?

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By Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani –

Jammu and Kashmir has a Governor’s rule from 8 January 2014. The State has endured five Governor Rules in the past. Under article 92 of the J & K Constitution the Governor has “assumed to himself all or any of the functions of the Government of the State and all or any powers vested in or exercisable by anybody or authority in the State”. The question remains was there ‘failure of constitutional machinery in the State? And if the State faced a breakdown of constitutional machinery, what were the reasons? These are two basic questions that need an answer.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir (on the Indian side of cease fire line) have participated in the local elections 2014.  Results were more or less in accordance with the regional trends and the manner in which political parties had campaigned in the three regions. Valley and Jammu in particular voted as they were asked to vote. Muslim majority from the Valley could not be persuaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that if they reposed their trust in him, he would return that trust with interest. The pledge was made in public and on behalf of his Government in Delhi. Valley based political parties argued that a vote against BJP was in the interests of the people in the Valley in particular and people of the State in general.

There was no crisis in the State that warranted an intervention under article 92 of the J & K Constitution. Congress, National Conference and independents (including CPI-M) had all offered an unconditional support to People’s Democratic Party for the formations of a PDP lead Government. The offer was in line with PDP election narrative, where it wanted to keep BJP out from the State in general and Valley in particular. If PDP had not dragged its feet and had accepted the support to form a Government, it would have continued to have an impacting influence on the governance. The support was being offered publicly and it was unconditional. There was no challenge to six years term of the chief minister.

Unless there is more to it, than meets the eye, there was no breakdown of constitutional machinery in the State at this stage for a Governor’s rule. PDP has misdirected itself and does not seem to be clear on its election narrative that it wanted BJP out from the State. Reports are that PDP was ready to form an alliance with BJP – a party that it wanted to be off the streets in Kashmir, only if six year chief ministerial tenure remained its exclusive. PDP has precipitated a Governor’s rule by not entering into an alliance with Congress, National Conference and independents including CPM (I). We sincerely trust that PDP would not have played Brutus with the Kashmiri vote and assisted BJP to enter the State in full strength through the use of article 92 of the J & K constitution. Governor is the representative of Delhi and Delhi has through the Governor “assumed to himself all or any of the functions of the Government of the State and all or any powers vested in or exercisable by anybody or authority in the State”. Therefore, PDP has remained instrumental in handing over the Kashmir governance to Delhi from 8 January 2014.

Governor is an appointee of the President and holds office during the pleasure of the President. It appears that PDP was so pre-occupied with the undisturbed hope of coming to power that it could not reason out the arithmetic of a polarised vote in the three regions. PDP disregarded the democratic outcome of the vote and tried to negotiate a full six year term of CM’s berth with the BJP and found itself alone in a political cul de sac. Or it may be that PDP has deliberately orchestrated a situation to allow BJP a stealthy passage into the J & K governance and after testing the popular sentiment, may settle down with BJP for a safe and steady government to serve its political interests. It is not 1931, 1947, 1975, 1987 or 2002 but we have entered into 2015. PDP has been voted in, to keep BJP out and therefore an alliance with BJP would mean a betrayal and difficult times in future. Now that BJP has been let in through the Governor’s rule, it would always be held against PDP that it might have conspired in helping BJP to be in Kashmir and later shake hands with it as an unavoidable consequence.

We live in a bigger world and interpretations of law have changed with the passage of time. The breakdown of constitutional machinery categorised in article 92 of the J & K Constitution has to be interpreted in the light of change over the years. We have a recent example of Belgium which has remained without a government for about 20 months.

Belgium had a political crisis that prevented formation of a government for 589 days. What may be most surprising, though, is that the Belgians found a way to keep their government programs and services running without serious interruption. A wealthier Flemish-speaking north with 60 percent of the population and a less prosperous French-speaking south, cultural distinctions, linguistic antagonism, and regional separation between the two halves of the nation have long made it difficult to create a coherent majority in a parliament full of multiple small parties split along communal lines.

But the nation’s long-running divisions hit an all-time-low when the prime minister resigned in April 2010 and no new parliamentary majority could be established. Round after round of fruitless negotiations went on for the rest of 2010 and most of 2011. No faction or party was willing to compromise, nor could any single politician emerge as a unifying figure. So what happened to the crucial work of Belgium’s government? Nothing much at all – things mostly went on as usual. The prior government stayed on in a “caretaking capacity” and the bureaucracy continued to hum all.  The absence of a government makes little difference to day-to-day life in Belgium. Government continued to make “legitimate decisions on urgent matters, such as complying with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) decisions to send troops to Libya, concluding deals to save banks, contributing capacity to support the euro, authorizing budgets for urgent needs (the prison crisis, shelters for homeless in winter time), and voting new migration legislation.”  One of the major lessons learned, they concluded, was that “in mature democracies, a power vacuum is taken care of in a constructive, creative, and responsible way.”

We live in the neighbourhood of Belgium and could draw a lesson from it. If PDP had not been fooling the people during elections and is not part of any conspiracy to have BJP sitting in the governance through Governor’s rule, number are there for the formation of a government. Jammu and Kashmir is an exceptional case and it merits to have an exceptional governance to be able to keep a broad spread of popular mandate. The formation of a grand alliance of various State based parties and in case of a need including the Congress is the way forward. Governor’s rule would not reflect the voters trust and would be looked at with deep suspicion. PDP has no choice but to move with the changed times in Kashmir. Rajasthan has a minister in charge of cow affairs (Gaupalan Mantri). We should not fail to form a Government for the people who voted for it.

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