As poll-bound Uttar Pradesh suddenly descended into a political crisis following the expulsion of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav from the Samajwadi Party (SP), constitutional experts ruled out immediate imposition of President’s rule in the state, saying it didn’t mean failure of constitutional machinery in the state.
Speculation was rife after Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik said he was keeping a watch on the political developments in SP even as he termed these as “an intra-party issue”.
According to Article 356 of the Constitution, President’s rule can be imposed in a state if a situation has arisen in which the government of the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. However, the expression “breakdown of constitutional machinery” has not been defined.
Generally, the governor sends a report in this regard to the Centre and it’s his report that forms the basis for the Union Cabinet’s recommendation to the President for invoking Article 356 to impose President’s rule. However, Article 356 also says the President can take such a decision even “otherwise” (i.e. even in the absence of governor’s report).
Former Lok Sabha secretary general and constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap said: “It all depends upon the President. He has to be satisfied that the constitutional machinery has broken down in the state. Constitutionally, the chief minister’s expulsion does not mean anything.”
“He is the chief minister not because he is a member of Samajwadi Party but because he is the leader of the Samajwadi Party Legislature Party. So long as he enjoys the support of the majority of MLAs, he can continue to be the chief minister,” he explained further.
Another former Lok Sabha secretary general, PDT Achary said: “As of now Akhilesh Yadav continues to be chief minister... He continues to be the leader of the Samajwadi Party Legislature Party. If at all the Governor has any doubt about the chief minister enjoying the support of majority of the MLAs, he can ask Akhilesh Yadav to prove his majority on the floor of the House. He can’t be removed otherwise.”
“… Whether a chief minister enjoys the confidence of majority of MLAs or not has to be tested on the floor of the House alone. If the chief minister fails to prove his majority, then the governor has to explore possibility of forming an alternative government. He can recommend imposition of President’s rule only when an alternative government can’t be formed and he has concluded that constitutional machinery has failed in the state,” he added.
Political observers feel that having burnt its fingers in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand where the Supreme Court reinstated the ousted governments, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government may not indulge in another political misadventure. Also, the BJP would not like to make Akhilesh Yadav a martyr.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said Akhilesh Yadav was no longer the chief minister and the party would decide on who would succeed his son.
The Opposition was already gearing up to demand the dismissal of what they termed “a minority government”.