Ladakh: Why this indecent haste?

By Mohammad Sayeed Malik. Dated: 2/10/2019 2:38:31 PM

As it is, creation of a separate administrative division for Ladakh frontier region was, by now, only a question of time. Its logic and rationale had since been acknowledged with the creation of two autonomous hill development councils for Leh and Kargil sub-divisions of Kashmir Division as it is.
So far so good.
But the method, manner and, above all, the timing of the decision announced in Jammu yesterday by the Governor's administration raises serious questions of propriety, procedure and precedence
Governor's rule is supposed to be only a stop-gap constitutional arrangement, for keeping the wheels of administration going in the larger interests of the state and its people.
But, in its intended spirit, this passing arrangement is by no means expected to involve itself in decisions of a major kind having long and short range political implications which this decision on Ladakh is full of. It also has obvious potential repercussions already visible and audible in the demand for creation of Chenab Valley division and another one for the Poonch-Rajouri border belt.
This aspect of the issue places the matter beyond the intended scope of (passing) governor's rule. That has also been the practice so far, until now when it was abruptly decided to throw the healthy convention out of the window.
Logic behind this restraint is that only a representative, elected government is capable of dealing with and steering the delicate political nuances of issues of such public importance
Obviously, subjective, if not partisan political interests have motivated an undesirable departure from a well-established course
On a personal note: I was the Director Information during the first ever Governor's rule in 1977 with that world renowned economist and political visionary, Laxmi Kant Jha, at the helm. Imposition of governor's rule lasting from March to July that year was forced by the withdrawal of Congress legislative support to the Sheikh Abdullah government installed in February 1975 in terms of the Kashmir Accord
Jha, as well as his solitary advisor KT Satarawalla (a top class administrator) and chief secretary Sushital Banerji were duly cautious about observing the sanctity of the Laxman Rekha even while discharging their assigned constitutional obligations without fear or favour.
On this particular issue of conventional propriety Jha never hesitated to take opinion from his subordinates. He often involved me in deciding whether he ought to be making this public announcement or that, taking care that he did not over-step his constitutional prerogative and that he did not usurp the legitimate authority of the (following) political dispensation by taking decisions involving sensitive political issues. Also, he was so keen to be seen as respecting the sanctity of local sentiment even while taking/announcing legitimate decisions very much within his constitutional jurisdiction.
He insisted that he should not be seen usurping what legitimately belonged to elected government
He went to the extent of encouraging me to suggest/ make changes in the draft of his public broadcast touching upon sensitive issues.
Satarawalla was no less keen on the political propriety of their administration.
They refrained from taking decisions which could have inconvenient implications for the coming political dispensation
Obviously, things have changed and changed beyond recognition. Administrative functioning under elected government and under governor's rule have become indistinguishable.
Not only that, it's intended political projections are not even sought to be covered with a fig leaf of conventional propriety
It is an open secret as to why there was this indecent haste in rushing through the decision on Ladakh. Someone is desperate to somehow reap an undeserved political harvest, come what may
The political parties of the mainstream variety ought to have been up in arms against usurpation of their legitimate prerogative. Or, is that there is now nothing left of any such legitimacy?

 

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