A Letter to the President
by P.S. Appu, Rtd. IAS
I have been agonising
over Gujarat for the last ten weeks. We are facing the worst crisis since
Independence. The situation is fraught with disastrous consequences. The
only authority who can stem the rot is the President. Here is a copy of
a letter I wrote to the President on April 28:
Dear Mr. President,
Today l hang my head in shame as an Indian, as a Hindu and as a former
member of the Indian Administrative Service. In the short span of eight
weeks the evil men who rule Gujarat, shielded by their patrons in Delhi,
have succeeded in besmirching beyond repair India's reputation as the
classic land of tolerance and moderation. Hinduism, despite its built-in
iniquities, has been noted for its catholic and eclectic beliefs. By sustained,
ill-conceived, diabolic indoctrination spread over several years the Sangh
Parivar has achieved a measure of success in converting the mild mannered
Gujarati into a violent, reckless fanatic. As a result of persistent,
insidious propaganda the simple Adivasis have been turned into mindless
tools of the saffron brigade. The poison has spread wide and deep posing
a permanent threat to public peace and social harmony. The most ominous
development has been the blatant misuse of the state machinery for carrying
out well- planned plunder, mayhem and murder.
After visiting many places in the State, Julio Ribeiro, a retired police
officer of outstanding ability and impeccable integrity has observed that
the state not only sat back and allowed the massacres, but had also actively
encouraged and participated in the mayhem. In his article published in
The Time of India of April 24, Mr. Ribeiro has given several details which
confirm the gross misuse of the official machinery. To the eternal shame
of the permanent services, the majority of IAS and IPS officers collaborated
with their political masters. The few who discharged their duties conscientiously
and acted in accordance with the Constitution and the law were subsequently
transferred. It is difficult to imagine greater perversity and cynicism
in the management of public affairs.
As one who had spent
over three decades in the IAS and held several important posts including
that of Chief Secretary, I feel ashamed that the great majority of senior
administrators and police officers failed to stand by the Constitution
and fearlessly uphold the rule of law.
Mr. President, Gujarat
has been burning for eight weeks. Even the presence of a strong contingent
of the Army has failed to restore peace. It is obvious to any impartial
observer familiar with Indian administration that there can be no hope
of peace as long as Narendra Modi stays as Chief Minister. His replacement
by another leader from the same party will serve no useful purpose. The
need of the hour is to dismiss the State Government, dissolve the Assembly
and enforce President's rule. A tough and impartial Governor of outstanding
ability should run the administration for a considerable period. Then
only there be any hope of restoring peace putting the State back on the
When the Prime Minister
reminded Chief Minister of Raj Dharma there was a glimmer of hope that
thing might improve. But Mr. Vajpayee's pronouncements at Panjim soon
belied that hope. Now it is abundantly clear that the Prime Minister will
not recommend the imposition of President's rule. He has taken the fatal
decision to defend the indefensible.
Since the commencement of the Constitution there have been over one hundred
occasions when Article 356 was invoked to impose President's rule. There
is much stronger justification now to impose President's rule in Gujarat
than on any one of those occasions.
In the present situation the President of India is not as helpless as
some people are inclined to believe. Under Article 75(1) the President
appoints the Prime Minister. The power to appoint includes the power to
dismiss. Under Article 78 the Prime Minister is required to furnish information
that the President may call for. I am sure that the Prime Minister must
have discussed Gujarat affairs with the President on a few occasions.
However, guided by narrow partisan considerations, the Prime Minister
is in no mood to recommend the imposition of President's rule. The situation
calls for immediate, effective intervention by President.
May I request you, Sir, to recall the oath you had taken before assuming
the office of President? You had solemnly affirmed that you would preserve,
protect and defend the Constitution. The President is the sole guardian
of our Constitution. The time has come for you to act in accordance with
that oath. Under our Constitution the President can act only on the advise
of the Prime Minister. But if the incumbent Prime Minister connives at
the continuing violation of the Constitution, the President has power
to appoint another Prime Minister willing to give him the right advice.
It was, indeed, very thoughtful on the part of founding fathers to have
made the President of India the Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces.
Mr. President, our country is facing most serious crisis since independence.
The long-suffering people expect you to rise to the occasion and widely
and resolutely exercise the authority vested in you under our Constitution.
Your countrymen support any drastic step you decide to take to defend
Pardon me, Sir, if this letter sounds a little presumptuous. I would crave
your indulgence, as it is the outpouring of an anguished soul.