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Fuelling the fire.

SANJEEV AHLUWALIA
Nothing illustrates the cost of wantonly discarding democracy and handing over the government to unelected officials than the case of Uttarakhand. To recap, the President of India (read the Union government) was pleased to take control of Uttarakhand on March 27, 2016, by invoking constitutionally vested emergency powers as the elected state government failed to discharge its constitutional mandate.

The occasion for doing so was an allegation, by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s members of the Legislative Assembly, that the Budget for 2016-17 was not approved by a majority vote in March, as required, to keep public finances running in the new year — April onwards. The Uttarakhand high court, in its order of March 28, rubbished the President’s order and this view was confirmed on April 21 by a bench of the court. The matter is now in the Supreme Court on appeal against the high court order. A ruling is expected tomorrow.

But forget the legalese. The fact is that Uttarakhand has been without an elected government to take charge and be accountable for over a month now. It is fashionable for babus to blame politicians for all the ills in the country. Unfortunately, the official machinery has failed miserably to showcase its strengths by managing the ongoing forest fire disaster. This illustrates that the “iron frame” of the bureaucracy is now so rusted that it fails to be proactive even when there are no visible political constraints on them.

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Amit Singh

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