The nature of India’s federal structure has always remained under debate. According to KC Wheare, the Constitution of India is quasi-federal in nature and not strictly federal. In the words of D. D. Basu, the Constitution of India is neither purely federal nor strictly unitary, but it is a mixture of both.
So why is the Indian Constitution quasi-federal? Because, though the states are sovereign in their respective legislative powers, it is clear that the powers of the states are not in coordination with the Union.
Since India broke its shackles from the British Raj and earned its Independence in 1947, it has perceived many prime ministers. But, for the first time in history, India is now under the rule of a jhagdalu (quarrelsome) Prime Minister.
The jhagdalu factor in PM Modi
Instances, where the Union Government has intervened in state’s internal matters, is not new in the political history of India. But the frequency where the Union Government has seen meddling with the state’s internal matters have witnessed an astonishing elevation since the BJP led NDA government came into power in 2014.
Recently, Mr Manish Sisodia (Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi) had remarked that India has never seen a jhagdalu Prime Minister like Mr Narendra Modi ever before. Delhi Government’s ‘Mukhyamantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojana’ (doorstep delivery of ration) has seen many objections and protests from opposition parties but recently the objections raised by the Union Government has made Sisodia call Mr Modi jhagdalu.
The Delhi government and the centre have been engaged in a battle ever since the former has announced the scheme. The scheme which is meant for the poor and vulnerable section enables the beneficiaries to have their ration delivered at home instead of going out and standing for hours in front of the ration outlets.
According to the Union Government, the scheme was not approved by the Centre before being implemented. On this notion, the AAP government made it clear that it never sought the approval of the Union Government. Delhi Government stated that according to law, distributing ration is the state government’s prerogative. But, Mr Modi being Mr Modi, couldn’t resist intervening in state affairs.
In a letter to the Delhi government, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution raised certain objections related to the scheme. Most of those objections seemed petty and ‘laughable’ as commented by Mr Sisodia.
This tussle between Delhi and Modi’s army has attracted an audience since March when the Union Government asked AAP led Delhi Government not to implement the scheme, as it is ‘not permissible’ to use subsidized food grain allotted under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) for the project. However, the Centre also assured that it will not have any objection if the Delhi government comes out with a different scheme without mixing the characteristics of NFSA.
Consequently, the Delhi government then dropped the name of the scheme and decided to implement doorstep delivery of ration as part of the already existing NFSA 2013. But all these efforts were not enough for the Centre and the scheme continued facing strong objections.
Mr Modi, why so nosy?
Such a tussle between the Centre and State has become a common scene in the political drama of India. In recent times, West Bengal has seen extreme interference from the Centre. In the early months of 2019, the Central Government sent CBI to question the former Commissioner of Kolkata Police Mr Rajeev Kumar over the Sharadha scam. Miss Banerjee went into dharna to protest against such ‘nosy’ tendency of our PM. Mamata Banerjee’s anti-CAA protests in Bengal grabbed the nation’s attention and exposed our PM’s jhagdalu side even then.
This year, once again Modiji decided to poke his nose into Bengal’s internal affairs by directing the immediate release of Mr Alapan Bandyopadhyay (the chief secretary of West Bengal) whose tenure was supposed to be ended on 28th May. Miss Banerjee stood firm with her decision that he can’t be released during this time of crisis and requested the Centre for his extension. But the PM is determined and has decided to take disciplinary action against Bandyopadhyay for failing to report to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on the scheduled date.
Mr Narendra Modi has frequently expressed his dislikes over the Shiv Sena led Maharashtra Government over various subjects including the Maratha quota issue. Recently, Union Health Minister Mr Harsh Vardhan remarked that the state alone has ‘bogged down’ the country’s effort to fight Covid-19. The Shiv Sena led government stated that Mr Thackeray has requested the Prime Minister to address the leaders of all political parties, asking them to stop indulging politics in this issue.
Arnab Goswami, known for his attack journalism and nightly television show, resembles China’s Cultural Revolution. Its victims are mostly the critics of the government policy. When Mumbai police arrested Modiji’s favourite journalist, the BJP government became paranoid. They wanted the immediate release of Mr Goswami and condemned such an act by the government of Maharashtra and believed that it was an open threat to democracy.
Our Prime Minister’s quarrelsome nature was even more witnessed in his recent war with Twitter. The US-based popular social media platform has faced charges by the Indian Government on the grounds of “provoking communal violence.” Twitter has paid the price for not abiding by the terms and conditions of the Government by losing its legal shield. Twitter is known for being a platform where people can openly criticize political leaders and exercise their Right to Expression.
The Government of India tried to tame the social media platforms by implementing the Information Technology (IT) Act 2021, and Twitter is a rebel child, disobeyed the Government and consequently lost the coveted ‘safe harbour’ status. The fact that Modiji cannot tolerate criticism has been proved several times; students have been sent to jail for protesting, journalists have been put under trial, scholars were put under house arrests, are among several other such incidents.
Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and other social media sites have been under Modiji’s ‘unlawful activity’ radar for a long time. But soon, these social media giants chose to bow before the King and agreed to the terms and conditions. The rules for India have been made loud and clear, protests against the government shall not be entertained at any cost.
What makes our jhagdalu PM famous?
A few days back, the Morning Consult Global Leader Approval Rating Tracker showed that our Prime Minister has a 66% approval, successfully putting behind Biden, Merkel, Trudeau and Macron. This rating exposed the harsh truth that Modi’s admirers are blind. The government’s international stature has suffered immensely in recent times. Chinese troops refuse to move back from the Indian-claimed territories that they occupied forcibly a year ago, while Modi’s chest-thumping about being a superpower in vaccine quickly turned into an embarrassment. His government procured too low jabs to satisfy the needs of his own countrymen, let alone for other nations.
So, what makes Modi so famous? Apart from his charisma, our Prime Minister has a unique quality of being nosy and jhagdalu. Maybe his admirers see this quarrelsome feature as a quality that can’t be found easily in other leaders. But, does our power-loving Prime Minister realize that he is disrupting the checks and balances of the basic structure of our Constitution? Mr Modi should realize that it is for democracy that India has earned respect worldwide and not China. It is because of democracy that our Prime Minister had been invited by the G7 to speak and not Mr Xi Jinping or Mr Kim Jong-un. Only time can show what Mr Modi has in store for his countrymen.
Edited by Aishwarya Ingle