President’s rule used and mis-used again
Even before the Uttarakhand crisis came to its conclusion, the Arunachal Pradesh crisis happened and the Supreme court reinstated the government in Arunachal Pradesh. From the verdict, it is an easy conclusion that central government has indeed used constitutional powers to topple state government going against the spirit of federalism of India. But, it is not the first time that central government has indeed tried to meddle with state governments. History is replete with examples of the same, most noticeable being Indira Gandhi’s tenure when an emergency was declared and also many states specially with non-congress governments went under president’s rule.
If there is any thread of commonality between the leaders who are not best known for respecting the federal structure of Indian constitution and India, it could well be the popularity of the governments and the size of the majority with which it is voted. But, no matter how large the size of the victory for the ruling party is, it has its pitfalls and positives. Indira Gandhi and Narendra Modi both stormed to power with a huge mandate, however, they are not the only ones to come to power with a huge mandate, nevertheless, both were historical victories.
Big victory margin vs small victory margin
It is hard not to see, that huge victory margins are indeed used as a facade to overreaching acts of central governments. Huge victory margins do contribute to effective policy making given the sizeable numbers in the Parliament and the consequential ease in passing of bills, on the contrary, not so large majority have often been criticized for policy logjam given the need to bring the opposition into the confidence of passage of crucial bills that requires a 2/3rd majority. If victories by huge margin will result in central governments not respecting the mandate of the state government’s, voters will then have a tough choice ahead. Having said that, an independent judiciary and a vibrant civil society can, in fact, keep in check the overreach of central governments.
Reviving federalism in India
PM Modi has quite often stressed in his speeches to people about Democracy and how it is our strength, yet, his government’s actions wrt Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh do not match the good intent of his words. Democracy gave Mr. Modi and other leaders historic victories, it is up to the leaders to strengthen and revive the spirit of Democracy when in power. In the age of social media, any such overreach by the central government for the purpose of usurping power will not go down well with Indian citizens and for Indian democracy. The incumbent government at the center should not repeat mistakes, the same mistakes those are etched in the history of India. Mr. Modi has a fantastic charisma and leadership capabilities which should be channeled to maintain cordial relations with all states.