Reader's note

In response to Swatasiddha Sarkar's article "Statehood Movement–A Political Process"

- IM Sharma

Swatashiddha Sarkar's eminently unreadable tricky-language-infested article on Article 3 sheds no light on the historical evolution of Article 3 and how gradually and inexorably the federal spirit and letter have been undermined by the so-called framers of constitution led by an ex-member of the Viceroy's Executive Council who never participated in, but almost always revelled in denigrating, the national movement and thereafter by the unitary, authoritarian rulers of India. Most of the members of the Constituent Assembly were in favour of the affected State Assembly passing a resolution to initiate the process of bifurcation or division, the draft Constitution of the Constitutional Adviser was particular that a division of a province could only happen with the previous consent of the provincial legislature concerned and even the Chairman of the Drafting Committee, to whom we just referred, had first come with a draft which called for a petition by considerable number of representatives of people from the area demanding separation to the President or a resolution of the affected State Assembly as a prerequisite for a bill to be moved by the President provided "the views of the Legislature of the [affected] State both with respect to the proposal to introduce the Bill and with respect to the provisions thereof " have been ascertained by the President, but himself has come with an amendment to drop the earlier prerequisites but retained the proviso with 'both aspects' requirement and when veteran members like Sri K.T. Shah moved an amendment to stress that the process should be initiated by the affected State Legislature only or otherwise there is no meaning for federal setup, he then assured such members that what he meant by such amendment was brevity but clarity is there that the President would send the draft bill for a resolution by the Assembly and it means that only the Assembly will have the privilege to initiate the process. So ultimately the first version of the adopted Constitution in November 1949 clearly laid down that the proposal for the creation of a new state has to be initiated by the affected State Assembly though the draft bill may be sent by the President. By a constitutional amendment in 1955 this was further truncated with the Centre assuming more powers saying only the views of the legislature will be ascertained i.e. the 'both aspects' were dropped, clearly implying that even the views of the State Legislature may be of no consequence. This is nothing but undermining of whatever federal essence left in the Constitution but even so, the healthy convention that developed in practice was that only on the State Assembly passing a resolution in favour of any division/bifurcation even the drafting of a bill could be initiated, and where the State Assembly rejected, the process was to be stopped. The example of Bihar and creation of Jharkhand is there before us. Now this Union Government, on the advice of the corrupt and inept ruling party, for sheer electoral advantages and for playing to the gallery, has ridden roughshod over the majority people opinions in Andhra Pradesh, relegated the State Legislature and State Chief Minister even to rubbish, and is proceeding with authoritarian bifurcation of the State with match-fixing with an equally corrupt and power crazy opposition party. In the end the vibrant Telugu nationality is being divided much against the wishes of the majority people in Andhra Pradesh and the transactional politics have transcended all limits of democratic ethics.


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