Cabinet recommends President's rule in Arunachal Pradesh, Congress protests

The Supreme Court has referred a batch of petitions on the Arunachal Pradesh crisis to a Constitution Bench. 

New Delhi/Itanagar: The Union Cabinet on Sunday recommended imposition of President's Rule in Congress-ruled Arunachal Pradesh, which is rocked by political turmoil that broke out last month.

Chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Cabinet at an unscheduled meeting this morning took the decision to recommend imposition of President's rule in the northeast state, official sources said in Delhi.

It is learnt that the Cabinet also recommended that the state Assembly be kept under suspended animation.

The recommendation drew stinging condemnation from the opposition with Congress alleging democracy was being trampled and that Modi was "fountainhead" of political intolerance while a shocked Chief Minister Nabam Tuki said such a decision in a sensitive border state was "unprecedented" and "unacceptable".

Accusing the Modi government of trying to destabilize a state bordering China, the Congress also said that it will challenge in court the Cabinet decision if it gets presidential assent.

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal expressed "shock" over the Cabinet decision, saying it is "murder" of the country's Constitution.

"This is really shocking as the Centre did not consult the state government before taking such a harsh decision.

Arunachal is absolutely peaceful without even a single case of law and order breakdown reported in the last month," Tuki told PTI in Itanagar.

Governor Jyoti Prashad Rajkhowa recommended President Rule without consulting the state cabinet at a time when several cases are sub-judice in the Supreme Court, he said.

"There is no Constitutional crisis in the state as recommended by the governor. Whatever crisis is there it is his (Governor's) creation," Tuki said, adding he enjoyed full support from all the cabinet ministers.

"With only a day left for Republic Day celebration, such decision will dampen the democratic spirit of the state's people who are zealously guarding the border with China."

Arunachal Pradesh was rocked by a political crisis on December 16 last year as 21 rebel Congress MLAs joined hands with 11 of BJP and two independents to 'impeach' Assembly Speaker Nabam Rebia at a makeshift venue, in a move branded as "illegal and unconstitutional" by the Speaker.

Up in arms against Tuki, 21 rebel party MLAs, including 14 disqualified a day before, with the help of BJP and independent legislators, congregated at a community hall after the state Assembly complex was 'sealed' by the local administration, and 'impeached' Rebia in an impromptu session chaired by Deputy Speaker T Norbu Thongdok.

27 MLAs in 60-member Assembly, including the Chief Minister and his ministerial colleagues, boycotted the proceedings.

A day later, in a bizarre turn of events, opposition BJP and rebel Congress MLAs congregated in a local hotel to "vote out" Chief Minister Nabam Tuki and to "elect" a rebel Congress MLA in his place but the Gauhati High Court intervened to keep in "abeyance" decisions taken at the rebel "session".

A "no confidence" motion moved by BJP MLAs and Independent MLAs was "adopted" with Deputy Speaker T Norbu Thongdok, who is also a rebel Congressman, in the Chair. A total of 33 members in the 60-member house, including 20 dissident Congress MLAs, later "elected" another dissident Congressman Kalikho Pul as the new "chief minister" of the state. The Chief Minister Nabam Tuki and his 26 supporting MLAs boycotted the proceedings terming them as "illegal and unconstitutional".

The Chief Minister later wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking their intervention to "uphold" the Constitution in the face of the "unprecedented murder" of democracy and "bypassing" of a democratically-elected government by Governor Rajkhowa.

Angry over the Governor's action in calling a session of the Assembly bypassing the government, the Congress had paralysed the Rajya Sabha for two days during the winter session.

In the High Court, Justice Hrishikesh Roy observed prima facie the Governor's decision to advance the Assembly session to December 16, 2015 for taking up the impeachment proceedings against the Speaker was in "violation of Article 174 and 175 of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court has referred a batch of petitions on the Arunachal Pradesh crisis to a Constitution Bench.