Will the imposition of President’s rule in WB put an end to ongoing political discord?

by Aishwarya Samanta

Uncertainty over imposition of President’s rule in West Bengal has been the topic of hot debate ever since Assembly elections ended. Truth to be told, West Bengal is undergoing a massive political turmoil. It’s been less than a week since the results of the 2021 Assembly Elections were declared, and social media platforms are already overloaded with pictures of violence and unrest. While Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), both been slinging mud at each other over the incidents, it is the common mass that is subjected to the barbarity of self-acclaimed political goons.

While most of the pictures that have been circulating on the internet have been found to be fake instigating an infuriated mob; in some areas the truth at the ground zero level is blood curdling. Amidst such a scenario, BJP has claimed that 12 of its party workers have succumbed to post poll violence and many have sustained fatal injuries.

On May 4, BJP President JP Nadda visited South 24 Parganas in the violence-strike state, where he grieved the loss of the lives lost to the violence and met the families of the deceased. Taking a dig at the ruling party (TMC), he was quick to hold it responsible for the scenario of political upheaval in the state. A day later, PM Modi spoke to West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar about the prevailing situation. The latter in a tweet expressed his concern over the matter and expressed his will to put an end over the hitch.

The sad pictures of elections induced violence crossed states after approximately 400 BJP workers fled to neighboring Assam in fear of their lives. In a tweet, Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also said that the Assam state government is taking care of the party workers and their family members by providing them food and shelter. Arrangements for COVID-19 tests are also being carried out for them.

But the real question is where is the end? Will blaming each other suffice the situation?  Majority don’t think so. The concern made their way to the Supreme Court where two petitions have been filed by a Chennai based NGO ‘Indic Collective Trust’, one demanding the CBI investigation of the violence and other demanding the imposition of President’s rule. A series of tweets and posts on social media platforms have been making rounds to declare President’s Rule under Article 356 in West Bengal, citing the complete break down of the state government’s incumbent machinery.

Is President’s rule the way ahead?

Under the Article 356 of the Indian Constitution, the decision to impose President’s rule in any of the state is subjected to certain conditions:

  1. The Union Government can take the direct control of a state if at any point the former feels that the latter is unable to function in accordance with the provisions cited in the Indian Constitution. If such a case arises, the Governor becomes the head of the state and in this case, Governor Dhankar would take over the chair.
  2. If a political party or a coalition fails to form a government even after the state elections or the current government resigns, President’s rule can be imposed. But since TMC has managed to grab hold of the majority of the seats, this situation is unlikely to be the reason of imposition of President’s rule in the state.
  3. The state government fails to elect a Chief Minister within the time period given by the Governor of the state.
  4. Postponement of elections due to natural disasters, war or epidemic.
  5. If the state government does not comply with the constitutional orders and the law and order of the state is at stake, President’s rule can be imposed. This is the very basis of filing of petition in the Supreme Court.

In any case, if President’s rule is imposed, this will be the fifth time West Bengal will go under the knife. Earlier in 1962, 1969, 1970 and 1971, West Bengal witnessed the imposition of the President’s rule. And this will mark the 6th time President’s rule will be imposed in any state after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India.

Will the fate of West Bengal be seized?

Though the President’s rule will never impact the citizens of the state directly, it is very unlikely that the aftermaths will be conducive. No major government decisions can be taken once President’s rule goes into action. Same goes with policy decisions and sanctioning of projects. The state will have to wait till the time President’s rule is revoked and the next government takes the charge. Though the time frame of the President’s rule can be extended up to three years in definite phases, the proclamation under Article 365 of the Constitution stands for a minimum of six months. Nonetheless, the President is entitled to revoke the President’s rule any time without requiring the approval of the Parliament.


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