Nabam Tuki
Nabam Tuki

The constitutional crisis in Arunachal Pradesh found its echo in Parliament on Thursday, though, admittedly, the Congress Party did not require the excuse to press on with its disruptive agenda. Strictly going by the word of the Constitutional law, Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa did overreach himself when he advanced the session of the State Assembly from January 14 to December 16. But the fact that the beleaguered Chief Minister Nabam Tuki had lost the confidence of the ruling Congress legislature party, with a majority of the MLAs rebelling against him too cannot be overlooked. The Assembly Speaker Nebam Rebia’s action in suspending five rebel Congress MLAs had further aggravated the crisis. Governor Rajkhowa’s decision to advance the session by a month was obviously aimed at preventing horse-trading in the intervening period. Since the numbers were clearly stacked against the Tuti Government, willfully putting off the floor-test was a ploy the CM sought to use under the guise of his constitutional right to choose the timing of the Assembly session. On Wednesday, when the rebel Congress MLAs along with eleven BJP members and a couple of Independents met in a private auditorium, since they were locked out of the Assembly complex by the Tuki Government,  a  resolution removing the Speaker was passed unanimously. There was no doubt whatsoever that the incumbent Tuki Government did not enjoy majority support.  Yet, in the eyes of the law it was an unconstitutional meeting, a point emphasised by the Guwahati High Court on Thursday on being approached by the minority chief minister. That is the lacunae in the law. What Governor Rajkhowa did was legally untenable but morally and democratically kosher. The court suspended the directive of the Governor till February 1. In other words, the Tuki Government has managed to buy time during which it can resort to the usual skullduggery beleaguered chief ministers usually indulge in order to bolster their numbers. In the meantime, the central leadership of the Congress has unleashed a virulent campaign, seeking the removal of Rajkhowa from the Itanagar Raj Bhawan. The Governor, incidentally, is a former member of the Indian Administrative Service and enjoys clean reputation. If he believed that the only way he could prevent horse-trading was to advance the Assembly session, a way ought to have been found to somehow convene an early sitting of the House before Tuki could unleash the usual ammunition of blandishments and threats to lure back the Congress rebels. To be fair, the High Court could not go by anything other than the letter of the law and it did well to stick to it. The echo of the Arunachal Pradesh crisis has further embittered ties between the ruling party and the Congress at the Centre. Hopefully, there will be a welcome lowering of tension once some clarity emerges in the National Herald case scheduled for Saturday, December 19.  Red-hot confrontation in the polity can only retard national progress.

Surprising nomination

It is strange, to say the least, the Supreme Court nominated the very-same person as the new Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh against whose appointment the Chief Justice D. Y. Chandrachud of the State High Court, citing credible evidence, had repeatedly  said no. Even the State Governor, Ram Naik, had strong reservations against the appointment of Justice (Retd.) Virendra Singh Yadav as the Lokayukta. On Wednesday, the apex court invoked its constitutional powers to make the appointment. Indeed, it is no less surprising that Justice Singh’s name at all figured in the panel of names submitted to the Supreme Court. Even if this was done by mistake or deliberately, given the controversy over his name, and the reported refusal of Justice Chandrachud to approve the appointment, the apex court ought to have taken care not to nominate the controversial Justice Virendra Singh as UP Lokayukta. This is most unfortunate. In fact, there seems to be some underhand deal between the Leader of the Opposition in UP as he went along with the State Government on the selection of Justice Singh as the anti-corruption ombudsman. Governor Naik to an extent and Chief Justice Chandrachud largely resisted his appointment, relying on the controversial track record of Justice Singh when he was a serving judge of the UP High Court. Hopefully, Justice Singh would prove his critics wrong in his new assignment.

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