Article 356 – Shall we scrap it?

Article 356 of Indian Constitution states that President, on the advice of Prime Minister, can dismiss a state Government on account of failure of the latter in terms of financial and Political performances.  There are many clauses in the Article and this article was recently in the news due to some efforts by the Central and State Government to remove the democratically elected governments belonging to their rival political parties by taking due advantages of their power. It has been said that the article 356 is dangerous for a democratic set-up govt like India and that it must be scrapped. Debates are on and there are no solutions visible so far. Some politicians are of the view that the article must be scrapped whereas others want it to be retained in Indian Constitution.

Let us, first of all, analyse the political incidents behind these demands that took places sometimes ago. The recent years saw the following developments in the Indian politics. I am narrating these events to see the huge differences meted to the Nagas by the Central Government along with the help of the President and will compare it in detail facts to dig-out the true colour of the Indian Government towards us leaving aside all the political biases within ourselves.

(A). J.Jayallalitha forced former Prime Minister A.B Vajpayee to dismiss the democratically elected government headed by Mr. M. Karunanidhi in Tamil Nadu. Mr Vajpayee refused to do so despite of the threats of Mrs Jayalalitha to withdraw support to the BJP-led government. But Mr Vajpayee stood his ground and had flatly refused to use article 356 to harm the interests of democratically elected government in the State of Tamil Nadu.

(B). Again, Some few years back;  in the early  part of the year 1998, Mr L.K Advani was critical of the incidents which occurred in the state of Bihar under the leadership of Rabri Devi.  There were killings and massacres. Three MLAs lost their lives during the latter half of the year 1998. The public suffered due to total breakdown of law and order machinery in the state. The Inspection teams sent by the Central Government to review the situation were sent back empty-handed as RJD supporters did not allow them to review the situation in Bihar. Hence, the Central Government recommended to the President, during Mr K.R. Narayan regime, that the Rabri Devi Government in Patna be dismissed under the provision of Article 356 as law and order situation in the state had taken a very dangerous turn. But the President, Mr K.R Narayan returned the recommendation of the Central Government without serious deliberation. Instead, added that the Central should reconsider its decision to impose the provision of Article 356 in Bihar.  Rabri Devi, has therefore, escaped the wrath of the Central Government due to the intervention of the President. But it is a plain fact that there is a grim scenario of law and order breakdown in the State of Bihar. But, if we cannot impose Article 356 on a black sheep sick state like Bihar known over the country for criminalisation of politics;, then why not scrapped it? That’s what every sensible citizen thought. There are many debates and controversies over the issue. But still doubts exist within us whether it will favour the right decision.

(C).Now  leaving aside all the political biases, lets discuss the matter with broader mind, come back to our  home state here and  take a closer look into the case and affairs of our recent State Government underwent  in regards to this Article 356 and its imposition. I supposed, it is not something strange or some sort of new political ideology or immediate development but rather it is something which every Nagas are well aware of it and its traumatic consequences. The State has reeled under this imposition more than once in the past too. We had had often being victimised by this Article 356 enshrined in our Constitution under different Central Government regimes. The State Opposition Government under the influence of some selfish and vested politician had finally succeeded in bringing this President Rule on the ground of complete deterioration of law and order in the State. Nevertheless, the motif behind this conspiracy was only to achieve advantages and immediate interest of the Congress Party for the nearing poll due to be held by 5th March 2008. Nothing serious matters or reasonable drawbacks could be extracted or seen from the DAN Government even after thorough scrutiny despite of the best of the critics’ researches that compels the Central to recommend PR in the State. 

The central government on their part could have guided the State Congress opposition to the right path; who were misguided by some selfish state level politicians with a narrow vision to gain its political mileage in the nearing general election, have instead; done additional damages which now clearly reflected their inner narrow-mindedness and lack of matured political ideology both in central as well as state politicians. Despite of several warnings and reminding to the ruling congress central government; by the eminent and responsible central oppositions parties like BJP and others from imposing the President Rule and fear of  unwanted consequences out  of such silly mistake, had just turned their deafen ears to the warnings without further consideration. And the poor ignorant public could do nothing rather than to keep silently watching the game of the corrupted almost with their eyes popping out. Our Prime Minister,  Manmohan Singh with all the nation’s responsibilities on his thick turban head; have failed to behave a fatherly image to visualised the difference between the rights and wrongs between his two children. Mrs Sonia Gandhi could at least have reminded him of the proverbs ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ but she had only reminded him of the Negative opinion ‘With power, you can do anything’. He might have been proudly thinking that he had succeeded in Manmohanising the polity of Congress but this is in contrary to what he thought. He had only instead womanised their party (Congress) image under the influence of Sonia Saalwar and by obediently dancing to the tune of Sonia’s musics.

Nevertheless, the silent spectators of the Country are the best to judge of what is black or what is white? As such, after having stated the instances of all the political facts in different parts of the country, I am leaving the fate of this article 356 recently imposed on our Nagaland state was reasonable or not/ for your readers to decide which we are now reeling through. When a state like Bihar could so easily escaped the cruel hand of President Rule despite of many shortcomings and maximum breakdown in law and order situation what’s the difference with us? J.Jayallalitha repeated request on the ex Prime Minister A.B Vajpayee to dismiss the Mr. M.Karunanidhi led Government in Tamil or she would withdrew her support to the BJP led Government in central couldn’t even make a slight reaction on Vajpayee because he knows that Tamil Nadu doesn’t deserved to be imposed with President Rule and so would not, comes what may because he knew how a father behave with his siblings accordingly. This on the part of Vajpayee’s maturity and wisdom should be appreciated and set an example to the central politicians like P.M Man Mohan Singh. 

The Nagaland state here with zero reason is unnecessarily being imposed with President Rule without any solid and concrete proofs. Whereas to cite as an example, a state like Bihar, under Rabri’s Government with an extreme breakdown in law and order situation, who 100% deserved President Rule have instead so easily escaped due to the negligence of the President of that regime. What’s the business here? Shall we just discard it as a wrong man at the wrong time to cite Prathibha Patil’s uncertainty and immaturity’s decision? Things aren’t right. The Constitution of India especially the article 356 is at six and seven. Or do the central Government under the so-called democratic set-up have a separate and special Constitution particularly for the State of Nagaland of Mongolian race? When the culprit state like Laloo’s native Bihar deserved 100%  article 356 to be applied upon is easily allowed to escaped; and the State like our own is absolutely free and innocent as far as the articles 356 goes ...I wonder why are we  simply being victimised for no fault of ours? Shall we in anyway scrapped it off or what’s the use? Isn’t funny?

However, as far as your sincerely opinion is concerned; I am not supporting the scrapping of Article 356 from the Indian Constitution and I feel all of yours opinion too are my side off opinion if not mistaken because the reason is crystal clear and simple. The undemocratic people and the hooligans would try to capture power at all costs that what we know it for sure. The recent statistics reveals that only the antisocial elements are able to reach the highest echelons of power due to their money and muscle power. Hence, the Central Government must have adequate powers but only those genius heads that can well fit to this article 356 to recommend the dismissal of that Government in the state which is either financially bankrupt or is politically backward. The interest of the poor and the downtrodden would be protected in this manner. If article 356 is not used where it ought to be, then civil war is the second only optional or it could be inevitable.

The article 356 had been misused by the central government not only this time but often in the past too. But when the President is conferred with the power to take the ultimate decision by the written laws of India; why do they outsiders came in? Why not let him take the decision in the favour of justice? At times, the Central Government would be right (the situation in state might be really grim) and at times, the victim state government could be the sufferer (the central government might be after its blood because it is the government of the opposition party). Hence, the President must make a prudent and careful decision after judging its merits and demerits each case. In both the category political party, the central as well as the state have to be reminded that anything of too much is not good, and whatever it takes; they should keep the limit provided by the Constitution. 

As stated earlier I am not going support its scrapping but instead will stand against those who want the Article 356 to be scrapped. The simple reason is that in the absence of the powers vested in the Central Government, it would not be able to control and govern the Nation with efficiency. All the states could become financially broke and could be the hotbeds of the crimes and dirty politics. An element of control should always be vested in the Central Authority under the blessings of President. Secondly, in the absence of constitutional tool like Article 356, the judiciary (and especially the Supreme Court) would not be able to adjudicate over the issue relating to the centre and the states. Justice would be delayed or denied. Therefore, Article 356 must be retained at all costs. The Indian Parliament should initiate discussions on the issue and the article should suitable be amended so that it remains effective and not like this time again. For everything will be lost for us when the decent character of our Constitution is to be disposed at the value of second-hand  goods price; that will be the end of all virtues of a beautiful woman who for the sake and lust for wealth turned a whore, and I do hope you understand what I means.

Medowe Kapfo (Columnist)
(Press Cell 16th AC -Youth Wing)