The Supreme Court has restored the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh. This is a huge setback to the BJP government at the centre. It had imposed President’s rule in the state, following which it backed Congress rebels to form a government in the state.
The decision comes a few months after the Supreme Court verdict on Uttarakhand. The court had then struck down the centre’s decision to impose President’s Rule in the hill state and eventually paved the way for Congress chief minister Harish Rawat to prove his majority on the floor.
There is a pattern here. Congress cannot manage its infighting; BJP sees potential and stokes it further. That is natural in competitive democracy. But then, the centre goes further and uses pliable governors to start distorting the rules of the game. The aim is to enable a change in the balance of power in the state. This is where BJP ends up flirting with constitution and legality.
Make no mistake. If any party has been a master at this game, it is the Congress. The use of Article 356 to dismiss unfriendly governments of other parties, engineer defections and use pliable governors as puppets was an art perfected by the grand old party.
But the BJP has shown it is no different. For a party that claims to be committed to cooperative federalism, it shows little hesitation in using any opening it can see to maximise power in states outside its control.
The BJP under Amit Shah is a dynamic party. It is constantly thinking of ways to expand its social base and geographical reach- this is more than you can say about the Congress at the moment. But what the BJP has to understand is that the only sustainable way to expand its base is through the hard work of democratic politics.
Look at the irony. The BJP top brass, including Shah and strategist Ram
Madhav, are scheduled to be in Guwahati to formally launch North East Democratic Alliance to mark a push in the region. The Assam victory was a big breakthrough for the party. It has allowed it to become a serious player in the region for the first time. All the headlines however would not be about the political push - but the political setback in Arunachal Pradesh.
There is a simple lesson here for the party.
Continue investing organisational energy in expanding through legitimate political means. Abusing central power and playing games to topple governments in the middle of their terms through suspect methods is counter productive. And this is because Indian federalism today is deeply rooted, and institutions of accountability--particularly the courts--are so strong that it is difficult to get away with executive excesses. Being ambitious is good for a party. But there are ways to achieve those ambitions. Playing foul will not yield those goals.
(The views expressed are personal)