TODAY -

Embittered enemies turning out caring bedfellows

SK Singh *



October, November months in a year signal the arrival of autumn season with its usual spectre of soft and sublime weather heralding a unique pleasing comfort. This unusual shade, this time around, had its glamour too for the political parties, of course for political convenience. This rare phenomenon was seen in Maharashtra this November.

Political analysts term it as ‘Season of Alliances’ and more suitably ‘Season of Defection Games’. This brings forth yet another rather strange phenomenon, and the political pundits coin it as, ‘Strange Bedfellows’. They warn that in the realm of politics that too in the context of India the saying goes, ‘Anything Goes in Politics’.

True to this school of thought, whatever turned out in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Goa earlier last year followed by those in Karnataka a little while ago and only last fortnight the developments in Maharashtra pretty surely reinforce the conviction that for political advantage, equated to personal advantage, strange bedfellows no more remain any strange.

Surprise bedfellows do not emerge easily; they are outcome of rigorous political exercises; where again more strange events take place often glaringly undermining standard practices and constitutional compulsions. These developments particularly the ones in Maharashtra can only be classified as rarest of the rare in Indian politics.

In view of the repeat performances of the main culprit the BJP, singularly in all these misdemeanors, a question arises. Are the people still enamored with such political transgression, however much the common man is bestowed with social security measures?

What could be more impossible is a Governor of a state writing letters in the dead of night to the Union Government for revocation of the order of PR? Equally outlandish is the MHA and PMO lying in wait for the letter even before it is dispatched.

Most recalcitrant and unprecedented in independent India, could be the unbecoming of the PM, to invoke Rule 12 of the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, which bestows the PM emergency powers to take a unilateral decision and get ex-post-facto approval from the Cabinet. Understandably, this provision is to be used in exceptionally emergent cases, to meet extreme emergency cases.

The singularly urgent decision of the Cabinet was to ask the President to issue orders invoking the PR imposed earlier in the state. Mind you, all these transactions occur in the post-midnight period of the day, the 25 Nov, the infamous midnight maneuver. This exercise, wrapped within confines of secrecy classified as ‘top secret’, was confided with the President of India however, who had to be forewarned of the impending exigency of according instant approval of the proposed lift.

In other words the President was asked to lie in wait with his full team to dispatch the order even in the wee hours of the 25 November. The dictate from the PMO was clear: the Governor was to preside over the swearing in ceremony before 8 AM the same day.

The bigger question is, could the imposition or revocation of PR in a state be classified as ‘utterly emergent situation’ to invoke Rule12 of the GOI (Transaction of Business)? Could it be equated to a war, or a natural calamity or anything of the grade?

Swearing in ceremony of the ministry of a state is not such a big deal, obviously doesn’t belong to either of these expressly classified grades of emergencies. Why then this extreme step by the BJP, the PM in particular, unless it was not meant to make way for the midnight drama, an invention by Modi-Shah duo.

To make the situation worse, installing the BJP-NCP government orchestrated by the ‘duo’ in the wee hours of 25 Nov, lasted hardly 80 hours. The two-member ministry, a second for Fatnavis had to lick wounds inflicted by the Supreme Court by directing the new ministry to face the vote of confidence by evening of the following day.

In other words, was given time for just one day vis-à-vis a whooping 14 days granted by the Governor. Couldn’t this dubbing by the Apex Court that too with the office of the Governor of the wealthiest state sound denigrating in the largest democracy of the world?

Why these events did happen, doesn’t it speak of the political credibility of the Modi-Shah Gang? Doesn’t also it glaringly demonstrate the hidden agenda at attempting formation of BJP-led government in Maharashtra through ‘defection’ or ‘horse trading’ or both?

Such strategies were in operation in the earlier cases of government formation in Jharkhand in 2015, in Arunachal Pradesh in 2016, where the party first broke the Congress, and then its own ally, the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA), to form the government. In our own state Manipur, the Congress secured maximum number at 28, in 2017 state assembly election, the BJP trailing at 21, yet the Governor invited the BJP after it succeeded in wrested support from regional parties.

The coercion politics deepened further by enticing 6 Congress MLA’s and one TMC MLA to defect and thus crossing the barrier mark. In 2018, the same story was repeated when in Meghalaya; the BJP with just 2 MLAs engineered the defection game so smoothly to get the support of 19 MLAs of the National People’s Party plus other smaller parties and thus formed the government. The Congress with 21 seats was left behind; the sole factor: defection-politics at exorbitant costs.

In Goa in 2017, BJP with 13 MLAs stole a march on the Congress with 17 MLAs, by luring or more straightly purchasing other MLAs in a house of 40 members. An ever working and strategist Modi-Shah Co. engineered a near-perfect defection of 10 Congress MLAs in July this year (2019), raising the BJP tally to 27.

Again, how did all these dramatic maneuvers succeeded; the answer plainly rests on the precision of implementing the age-old politics, often murky, that Haryana adopted with near perfection in the seventies and the eighties.

Political pundits often talk about the ideological aspect of these denigrating methodologies the BJP has been adopting so repeatedly and so far so successfully over the years. Doesn’t this draw a line, a dichotomy between the BJP’s tall talk about ‘clean government’, ‘probity in public life’ and repeated practice of ‘defection politics’? Yes, certainly the NDA (II) has crossed the ‘Laxman Rekha’ that too far exceeding any such intrusion by any political party in the country.


* SK Singh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on December 20 2019.



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