Facing opposition onslaught over imposition of President's rule in Uttarakhand, the Modi government has decided to take rivals head-on, citing instances of states being placed under central rule when Congress, Janata Party and United Front were in power.
As Parliament's Budget session resumes on Monday amid a strong possibility of a stormy start, with the opposition parties accusing the NDA government of "assaulting" the federal structure, the government's floor managers have decided to brazen it out and hit back citing specific cases of use of Article 356 by successive governments in the past.
At the same time, it will defend the imposition of President's rule in the hill state as a measure needed in the wake of a "Constitutional breakdown."
Outside Parliament, BJP's spokespersons will also take the same line and insist impropriety was committed by declaring the Appropriation Bill 'passed' while ignoring the demand by nine rebel Congress MLAs for a division vote.
According to sources, the government would flag the fact that out of 111 times President's rule has been imposed since 1951, "Congress governments and those propped by it imposed it 91 times".
The government is likely to reel out figures regarding imposition of President's Rule from the time of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to the incumbent Narendra Modi.
"President's rule was imposed 45 times during the 16-year tenure of Indira Gandhi. It was done 10 times during the 10-year rule of Manmohan Singh. In little less than five-year tenure of P. V. Narsimha Rao, President's rule was imposed 11 times, while in the 17 years Nehru ruled, central rule was imposed seven times," sources close to the government said.
"During the five years Rajiv Gandhi was at the helm, it was imposed six times, while during the one-year-and-216-days tenure of Lal Bahadur Shastri, President's rule was imposed twice," they said.
With Opposition parties like JD-U and Left also attacking the government on this year, the government has also planned to remind them that even Janata Party and United Front governments had clamped central rule in a number of states.
"While it was done 12 times during the Prime Ministership of Morarji Desai of Janta Party in a short span of two years and 126 days, V P Singh's 340-day government of National Front did it twice.
"The 170-day rule of Chaudhary Charan Singh, which had the support of Congress, and the 223-day rule of Chandra Shekhar of Samajwadi Janata Party, again backed by Congress, also saw imposition of President's Rule four times each. H. D. Devegowda's 324-day government propped by Congress also imposed President's rule twice," they said.
In contrast, the government is likely to argue that while President's rule was clamped only four times during the 6 odd years under the governance of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Article 356 was used only twice (in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand) under Narendra Modi in the last two years.
Upping the ante on the Uttarakhand political crisis, Congress leaders have given notices for suspension of the question hour and adoption of a resolution condemning the imposition of President's Rule there when the Budget session resumes tomorrow.