President’s rule: a story of over 100 chapters

With President Pranab Mukherjee giving his assent today to the proclamation of President’s rule in Uttarakhand, take a look at an interactive timeline of other instances when President's Rule was imposed since 1951.

January 29, 2016 03:37 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:00 pm IST - New Delhi

With President Pranab Mukherjee giving his assent to the >proclamation of President’s rule in Uttarakhand on March 27, following imposition of President’s Rule >in Arunachal Pradesh on January 26, a new chapter to India’s complex centre-state relations has been added. The imposition of President’s rule spiked in the late 60s and through the 70s, The Hindu ’s analysis of research by political scientist Anoop Sadanandan, information from the Sarkaria Commission report of 1988 and news reports of the last decade shows. In all, there are at least 113 recorded instances of imposition of President’s rule.

Perhaps the two most egregious instances of mass imposition of President’s rule as documented by the Sarkaria Commission took place in 1977 and 1980, when the Janata Party and the Congress respectively swept to power and dismissed opposition governments en masse. In at least 13 further instances from Independence to 1986, state governments that enjoyed a majority were dismissed. In over a dozen more, no opportunity was given to claimants to prove their support, a practice declared illegal by the landmark 1994 Bommai judgement.

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have seen the most instances of imposition of President’s rule, with ten and nine instances respectively, while this is Arunachal Pradesh’s first brush with Article 356. The practice has declined significantly in recent years, except in instances where there is a hung assembly or loss of majority. “Regional parties, by entering into opportunistic alliances with national parties and joining coalition central governments, have become effective barriers against central dominance,” Mr. Sadanandan says in his paper.

Here is an interactive timeline:

This article was originally published when President’s Rule was imposed on Arunachal Pradesh on January 26, 2016. It has been updated to include the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand on March 27, 2016.

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