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2002 UP POLLS: President Rule proposition may prove counterproductive for Congress Party

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By Mohammad Shahid Parvez


Lucknow: Amidst debate over who will form the government and what will be its nature after the elections in the state, Union minister and Congress leader Sriprakash Jaiswal’s statement in Kanpur reently hinting at the possibility of President Rule as a hung Assembly was on the card in the state has caused ripples in political circles. Needless to say that the opposition parties are furious and the Congress too has disapproved of the minister’s comment asking the party leaders to focus on how to get majority in the elections instead of giving such statements. The Election Commission, on complaints by BJP and SP, has issued a show cause notice to the Congress leader for violating the model code of conduct by attempting to threaten, by his statement, the voters going to poll in the sixth and seventh phases to either vote for the Congress or face the imposition of President’s rule in the state.


Jaiswal though later retracted his statement saying that he had only talked of the constitutional possibilities when asked by reporters about a situation where no party gets a clear majority but the damage was done. The opposition saw through his remarks the Congress design to indirectly rule the state which has kept it out of power for the last 22 years. The speculations of majority eluding the parties in UP and the assertions of Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi and Digvijay Singh, that the party will have no truck with any outfit in formation of the government after polls has only strengthened the opposition fears.


It is not that the constitutional option is anything new. In fact, a section of Congressmen were favouring the idea and some political observers were apprehensive of it but such a statement coming from a senior Congress leader who also happens to be a Central minister in the midst of polling can not be dismissed lightly. Jaiswal may have floated the idea deliberately to gauge the public mood or to draw benefits in the forthcoming sixth and seventh phases of polling as the Election Commission has charged him with, but the statement has shown him and his party in poor light. It is true that a hung Assembly is the most likely outcome of the state polls but that does not necessarily mean President rule. We live in a coalition era and Congress itself is heading a coalition government at the Centre. There is a constitutional provision that President rule can be imposed if after elections no party or conglomerate of parties is in a position to form a stable government. But this should be done only after exploring all the possibilities.


Those favouring the idea in Congress have an eye on the Parliamentary polls. They feel that if no party gets majority in the Assembly elections it would be better for the party not to extend support to SP but go for Central rule in the state. They argue that by pumping money into the state and taking up development works the party can improve its position in the state and get benefit in Lok Sabha polls. They also say that Rahul Gandhi having ventured so far with his vision of politics free from caste and community bias, can hardly afford to support Mulayam without denting his image. This notion in the Congress circles comes perhaps from the assumption that no government formation in the state will be possible without the support of the party. However, it is not necessary that the poll outcome is the same as the Congress thinks it. It will depend on the number of seats the parties specially the two main contestants-SP and BSP as also the success of smaller parties and independents.


In any event the Congress move to impose President Rule is a dangerous one and may prove counterproductive for the party. The people have participated in this election in large numbers and voted for a change and good governance. Anything counter to their aspirations may only attract a backlash from them. Besides if the Congress shows such an apathy with Mulayam even when he is ready to go extra mile to make adjustments with it he can withdraw his party’s support to the Centre leaving it solely at the mercy of Mamta who has already acquired threatening postures and giving sleepless nights to the Congress. Besides, the Congress image which has been dented by several scams and rising prices will get further beating if it tries to capture power by imposing Central rule against the people’s mandate.


[Mohammad Shahid Parvez is former News Editor, National Herald, Lucknow. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Uttar Pradesh). He can be contacted at mshahidparvez@gmail.com]
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