If one reflects on the statements made by certain political leaders across some States over the past year it does create a cause of concern as to whether we have the maturity to function as a federal democracy. If this is not acknowledged and examined on priority it would invariably create a problem of sizeable proportions in the near future.
It would be pertinent to elucidate on these concerns so that the gravity of what is brewing can be understood. Specifically let us take the example of West Bengal where have had the Chief Minister elected with a thumping majority on more than one occasion exhibiting conduct which portends ill for federalism and breeds anarchy. It is incumbent upon every constitutional position holder to uphold highest standards which represent both the state and the country in a dignified rightful manner.
Here is a gist of anarchist positions taken by Mamata Banerjee as the CM of West Bengal:
Now look at the utterances made over time by Lady here in question so when the home ministry decided to extend the jurisdiction of BSF 50 km inside the border she vociferously objected and not in the most decent of vocabulary. She exhorted the state police to open fire on BSF if needed!
Imagine an elected constitutional post holder asking the state police to take on force which is chartered to protect the borders and keep us all safe? The state is a subset of a country and not the other way around. The other state which took umbrage to the MHA directive was Punjab, which shares a vast border with a permanently hostile state the other side of the border.
What is common in these two states? Both share borders with an overt and covert set of forces who are inimical to India’s interest. Not a week goes by when large drug hauls are not reported in these two border states caught by BSF. Clearly narcotics which had a clean pass to enter and fuel all kinds of subversive activities seem to have some support from these states, whether state of non-state actors. Fact remains that this needed to be stopped and the MHA was well within its capacity to do so.
When the CBI started investigating the cattle smuggling case & chit funds scam, she again questioned the locus standi and created hurdles for the investigating agency by withdrawing general consent
Instead of running a corruption free government overlooking heinous activities like cattle smuggling to thrive and letting people dupe the working class of their hard-earned money in the chit funds scam reeks of irresponsibility.
No other state has had violence marred elections like West Bengal had in the last assembly elections. Not only was there serious violence during elections the violence unleashed on BJP cadre and supporters was so gory and shameful that it flies in the face of a functioning mature electoral democracy. Even women and children were not spared. The GOI deputed the CBI to investigate the barbaric post poll violence and rightly so:
Several arrests followed post the cases proving that the violence unleashed on the hapless BJP cadre was state sponsored. Just how did violence get so mainstreamed against political adversaries in WB? The state sadly has three decades of communist violence to give credit to and the TMC has gleefully inherited this practice. Leadership needs gravitas and their conduct needs to reflect decorum. When one sees that the state CM is calling the HM of the GOI as Chubby cheeks, calling the BJP President Nadda Fadda and others calling the PM using foul and derogatory language this is bound to happen. The cadre gets a free pass to violate all decorum and unleash violence knowing fully well that the law enforcement machinery will look the other way.
The primary duty of an elected leader, be it the CM or the PM is to uplift the standard of life of citizens and help in critical areas. The GOI came up with the single largest healthcare benefit scheme on this planet for all Indian citizens – the Ayushman Bharat Scheme whereby an annual health cover of INR 5 Lacs is provided to half the population of India. PM-JAY offers 1949 treatment procedures across 27 medical specialties.
So far, over 37 million hospital admissions have been authorized under the scheme, at a cost of ₹45,000 crores have been authorized under the scheme through a network of 25,000 hospitals of 25,000 empaneled healthcare providers. Instead of applauding this initiative what does Mamata Banerjee
She blocks it! And why? so that PM Modi does not get further popularity in her state.
This exposes that petty mindset that she is in the chair for power and not genuine welfare of the citizens of West Bengal, even those who voted for her.
Another instance where the Court itself struck down the “Duare ration scheme” as ultra-vires of the National Food security act.
A division bench of Justices Chitta Ranjan Dash and Aniruddha Roy held that the Duare Ration scheme is “ultra vires of the National Food Security (NFS) Act, 2013” and “is, therefore, a nullity in the eye of the law.” It added that the scheme has “no legal validity.”
“The state has transgressed the limit of delegation by obliging the fair price shop dealers to distribute ration to the beneficiaries at their doorstep in the absence of any authority to that effect in the enabling act, i.e., the National Food Security Act,” the division bench observed.
Tracking the state of affairs in West Bengal can keep revealing such episodes, each indicating the same aspect- the conduct is completely unbecoming of a constitutional post holder and it has now transgressed into functioning like an independent republic with scant regard for law & order at the altar of blatant appeasement and holding onto power by unleashing violence on all those who oppose .
To any conscientious citizen of India West Bengal is symptomatic of India’s next big challenge. What happens when the fence starts eating the grass?
This question will need to be debated with utmost seriousness by the lawmakers, citizens, nationalists, and legal luminaries sooner than later. While India is a federal polity what happens when in any state an elected government instead of upholding all constitutional propriety that they have been sworn into does the opposite? The current provisions and political decorum do not have any ready remedy for this environment. Dismissing an elected government under 356 is an option but it may not be the only and correct remedy as much damage is already done with each passing month and the damage can take years to recover from and in some cases the damage may never heal.
India must get together and extensively debate and find a solution to prevent the fence from eating the grass while preserving the largely mature federal political structure.