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'Assembly should've dissolved earlier, not now'

May 23, 2005 13:19 IST
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Ever since Bihar came under President's Rule on March 7 after the assembly election threw a fractured verdict, the main political players in the state have been working hard to cobble up a government.

The efforts, mainly led by Janata Dal-United leader Nitish Kumar and the Lok Janshakti Party's Ram Vilas Paswan to somehow form a government were gaining ground in the last week.

Nitish Kumar was trying to stake a claim to form a government with support of rebel LJP legislators.

The virtual split in the LJP forced Paswan to extend support to Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal to cobble up a government.

'We saved the UPA govt'

But suddenly Prime Minister Manmohan Singh convened a Cabinet meeting on the night of May 22 to review the law and order situation in Bihar and decided to dissolve the state assembly.

The unexpected dissolution will certainly generate much heat. The BJP has called it a 'murder of democracy' and the NDA has called for a Bihar bandh tomorrow.

Prashant Bhushan, the leading Constitutional expert and public interest lawyer in the Supreme Court, talks to Deputy Managing Editor George Iype about the Bihar situation.

Do you think the dissolution of the Bihar assembly was the right decision at this juncture?

I feel the Bihar assembly should have been dissolved much earlier.

The present timing suggests that it was done under some political influence.

Dissolution murder of democracy: BJP

When should the state assembly have been dissolved, according to you?

After the election, there came a situation when no party or coalition groups could muster up enough numbers to form a government in Bihar. It was then clear that they could not come up with a stable government. Three groups, all opposed to each other, made it clear that there could not be a stable democratic set-up in Bihar.

The Central government should have dissolved the state assembly then itself, rather than waiting till now to dissolve the government.

The government has said the assembly was dissolved to prevent horse-trading in the state.

Yes, unconstitutional and illegal steps have been taken by political parties to win over MLAs in Bihar.

But I do not know why the central government kept quiet so long and created such a situation for horse-trading.

It would have easily dissolved the state assembly much earlier when it was crystal clear that no party was able to form a government in Bihar.

Dissolution to prevent horse-trading

You said political influence played a part in the dissolution of the state assembly. What is the influence you are referring to?

Nitish Kumar has been trying to stake his claim to form a government with the support of rebel Lok Janshakti Party legislators.

The virtual split in the Lok Janshakti Party forced Ram Vilas Paswan to extend support to the Rashtriya Janata Dal.

So basically, what has been happening in Bihar smacked of political horse-trading.

Under the present political situation, dissolution was the only answer.

Now what happens in Bihar?

Suddenly the political situation in Bihar has become very cloudy.

Those who hoped that they would somehow form a government will not keep quiet surely.

Do you think there will be a law and order problem in Bihar?

There has been no law and order situation in Bihar after the assembly election till now.

But now that the assembly is dissolved, it is sure that political parties would create law and order problems in the state.

Can the dissolution of the Bihar assembly be challenged in the Supreme Court?

Yes, it can be.

I think the main players like the Janata Dal-United and the BJP might go to the court, challenging the government order.

Is there a possibility that the government order can be stayed by the Supreme Court?

It will be very difficult to challenge the dissolution order in the court as the government order is clear that there is no single political party or group that can form a government in Bihar.

So you expect an assembly election in Bihar in six months time.

Yes, naturally, that is the only way to go now.

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