Wednesday, July 14, 2010

End of Federalism?

Ever heard a Governor and Election Commissioner (both of them tainted individuals in their respective tenures) tell a democratically elected state government on which ministers to remove from the ministry? Both the positions, Governor and EC report to the President and so come under the Central Govt influence. This is a serious departure from the set democratic norms. We can debate and even agree on the point of Reddy brothers mining activities and their presence in Karnataka Cabinet. But to be adviced on corruption by Governor H R ,Bhardwaj whose claim to fame is the clean chit to accussed in Bofors case or his shielding of tainted ministers like Laloo as Law Minister in UPA1, is like Baba Nithyananda teaching celibacy.

This is just one off case in a larger picture. Central Govt's refusal to sign the anti-terror bill passed by Gujarat govt, interference of National Advisory Council in state matters like law and order, the step motherly treatmeant to states ruled by opposition, Union Minister Mamata Banerjee dictating anti Maoist policy in WB, the support to the Maoists in Lalgarh, CBI hounding Gujarat Police and Home Minister on encounters of anti-nationals (inspite of the fact that Gujarat has seen far lesser encounters than Maharashtra or AP), scuttling National Highway projects in opposition ruled states, opposing construction of a dam in MP on environment reason while same has been cleared elsewhere, many more such examples to show how central government is trying to interfere in working of state governments.

One of the most important pillar of democracy is the federal rights that states enjoy and to cut those rights is a first step to dictatorship. Indira Gandhi in 70s followed the same path. She first interfered in state subjects and got duly elected governments dismissed. Then she clamped down on political rights and finally on individual rights. History is repeating itself after 3 decades. The federal character of India is being tried to change using all democratic and undemocratic tools. Today it is the right of some opposing states that are infringed upon. Tomorrow it will be me and you to suffer if we decide to be against the government on any issue. Also one of the other flip side is that whenever states rights have been threatened, regional sentiments have risen and so have the regional parties.

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