ndsharma's blog

Posts Tagged ‘Rajnath Singh

Dineshwar Sharma, Centre’s interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, reached Srinagar on November 6 on a five-day visit to the State in his quest for peace. Questions have been raised about his mission by opposition parties mainly on the ground that his domain and jurisdiction have not been clearly defined.

 

 

An observation of former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Dineshwar Sharma spotlights the contrary pulls in the Modi government on Kashmir problem. In an interview to The Hindu, he said that the ‘fear of guns has to go. There can be no solution under the shadow of the gun’.

Sharma was appointed on October 23 as a Special Representative by the Modi government to start a dialogue with the people of Jammu and Kashmir in a bid to find a solution to the persisting problem. The announcement was made by Home Minister Rajnath Singh in pursuant to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech in which he had specifically pointed out that the Kashmir problem could not be resolved either by bullets or by abuses and that a solution could be found only by embracing them (Kashmiris). Modi’s observation was welcomed by all parties in the Valley including the moderate Hurriyat Conference.

However, two days after Rajnath Singh announced Sharma’s appointment as a Special Representative, Chief of Army Staff Bipin Rawat announced that the Army’s operations in Kashmir would continue ‘unabated’ in spite of the government’s attempt to have a dialogue with the stakeholders of the strife-torn State. Gen Rawat also said that the appointment of Dineshwar Sharma would have no impact on the Army’s activities in the Valley.

This was contrary to the Prime Minister’s promise of no bullets or abuses but embracing. Now the Modi government’s Special Representatives has specifically pointed out that the fear of guns has to go as there can be no solution under the shadow of the gun. Dineshwar Sharma may be the government’s emissary for exploring the ways to restore peace in the Valley but Gen Rawat’s threat cannot be just brushed aside inasmuch as he is supposed to enjoy full confidence of Modi. It was not the first time that he had issued a statement with political overtones; even earlier he had been issuing similar hawkish statements supposedly with the approval of Modi, or at least unchecked by him. No other Army Chief had in the past addressed press conferences and issued statements on issues which should be addressed by the political leadership. Once even a neighbouring country was constrained to ask if the Army Chief was expressing the views of the government.

A significant hint dineshwar Sharma dropped in his Hindu interview is that the present Kashmir problem started after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. He said: ‘when I became the IB chief in December 2014, Kashmir was not the problem….Kashmir became a problem during the latter part of my tenure. Though there were problems initially, we did not expect the kind of unrest that happened in 2016.’

BJP, and Narendra Modi as its leader, always viewed the Kashmiris with a suspicion and always believed that only the bullets can bring them to their senses. Ruthless suppression of trouble-makers was what was reportedly recommended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. This apparently boomeranged and the situation in Kashmir at one point appeared to have gone beyond control. Dineshwar Sharma’s candidly expressed views on the Kashmir problem give a hope that he may try to win the trust of Kashmiris in order to find a lasting solution to the problem. But will the BJP’s 65-year-old prejudices and Modi’s apparent support to army’s not so discreet operations allow him to complete his mission?

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BJP has declared Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi its Prime Ministerial candidate. This is the first time that a party is contesting the Lok Sabha elections with a Prime Ministerial candidate. In the past the presumption was there most of the times as to who would become the Prime Minister if a particular party came to power but never had a political party formally announced its Prime Ministerial candidate.

There is no law that prevents a political party from declaring anyone its Prime Ministerial candidate. But the concept of PM candidate militates against the spirit of Parliamentary system that we follow in this country. A direct election of the head of the government is held only in the Presidential system. The Presidential candidate, say, in the US, is directly elected by the entire nation and stays in office for four years. Sometimes the President belongs to one party while another party has a majority in the Legislature and a clash, too, occurs between the two over certain issues. But the Legislature cannot remove the President except through impeachment which is a pretty cumbersome process. The President has certain overriding powers.

In our parliamentary system, there is no provision for the direct election of the Prime Minister. He or she has to be one of the 543 members (which is the present strength) elected to Lok Sabha or one of the 233 elected members of Rajya Sabha. The executive powers, in theory, vest in the President who is also head of the Legislature as well as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. In a unique arrangement, the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary in our country derive their respective powers from the Constitution.

The Constitution provides that “The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister” and that “The Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President”. The Constitution also lays down that “The Council of Ministers shall be collectively responsible to the House of the People” which gives precedence to Lok Sabha over Rajya Sabha which is referred to as the House of the States.

In other words the Prime Minister belongs to the party, or an alliance of the parties, which enjoys majority in Lok Sabha. In theory as well as in practice, he or she is the leader elected by the members of the party (or an alliance of the parties) having a majority in Lok Sabha. The majority party (or alliance) can change its leader (or the Prime Minister) any time. This did happen a few times in the past.

The Constitution provides a lot of flexibility in this regard. The majority party (or alliance) may elect its leader even from its members of Rajya Sabha, though the Prime Minister will stay in office only as long as he or she has the majority support in Lok Sabha. The present Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, is a member of Rajya Sabha. (He has, in fact, been never elected to Lok Sabha). Moreover, the Constitution allows the majority party (or alliance) to elect its leader (to be appointed Prime Minister) even if he or she is not a member of the either House, with the condition that he or she should get elected to either House within six months of being appointed Prime Minister. The late P V Narasimha Rao was not a member of either House when the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) elected him its leader in 1991.

While the President in the Presidential system is elected by the entire nation, the Prime Ministerial candidate is not. He or she will represent in Parliament only one of the 543 constituencies and cannot, therefore, be considered as the choice of the nation. This poses a few questions also. What if the party of the Prime Ministerial candidate gets a majority in Lok Sabha and the elected members decide to elect someone else as their leader? Can the Prime Ministerial candidate insist that he only should be elected? Or, what will happen if the party gets the majority and the Prime Ministerial candidate loses?

Besides, the nomination of Prime Ministerial candidate undermines the party as well as its president. After declaration of the Prime Ministerial candidate, Rajnath Singh has been virtually reduced from the BJP president to baggage career of Narendra Modi. Not a healthy development.


November 2017
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