fifty years ago February 21, 1968 Archives

President’s Rule in West Bengal

West Bengal came under President’s rule to-day [February 20] for the first time since Independence. The Union Cabinet decided late last night [February 19] on this course of action, and the President, Dr. Zakir Hussain, signed the proclamation to-day [February 20] shortly after the State Chief Minister, Dr. P.C. Ghosh, had handed in his resignation in Calcutta to the Governor, Mr. Dharma Vira. The President has also ordered the dissolution of the State Legislative Assembly. A new Assembly will therefore have to be elected by holding fresh elections. President’s rule has to be approved by Parliament and can be extended at six-month intervals for a maximum of three years. The P.C. Ghosh Government thus goes out of office after three months. It took office on November 21 last, following the dismissal of the United Front Coalition Ministry headed by Mr. Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee. The President, in his proclamation, said that having considered the report of the Governor and other information, he was satisfied a situation had arisen in which the Government of the State cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and, therefore, under powers conferred under Article 356 of the Constitution, he was issuing the proclamation. Amidst a lot of uproar and interruptions from the Communist benches, the Union Home Minister, Mr. Chavan made a statement in Parliament on the reasons for the decision. The three reasons given by the Home Minister for the step were continuing political instability, the deliberate action of certain groups to prevent functioning of the Assembly, and the State Speaker’s repeated adjournment of the House. If it was only the Speaker’s action, Parliament could have taken measures to enable the Assembly to function, but that was possible only if there was a stable Government. There was no prospect of either. Mr. Chavan told the Lok Sabha that the State Governor had reported that the existing position in the West Bengal Legislature was not only fluid but would continue to be fluid “so long as principles, programmes and policies do not determine the functioning of political parties.”


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