Govt may act tough if more riots erupt

With both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said to be extremely concerned about the recent communal carnage in Muzzafarnagar, the Centre will, in all probability, issue a stern warning under Article 355 of the Constitution to the Akhilesh Yadav-led government in Uttar Pradesh in case of another flare up. Highly-placed government sources said there was a growing view within the UPA that the Centre can no longer remain a mute spectator to the situation in UP and its role should not be limited to merely issuing advisories by the Union home ministry. Apart from having its own political implications, a warning under Article 355 is significant as it implies that the Centre is closely monitoring the state’s law and order situation so that its machinery swings into immediate action to control incidents of communal violence.
“Article 355 also gives some powers to the Centre to issue directives to the state government, even though law and order is a state subject. But if the state still fails to act the Centre can intervene, particularly to protect the minority,” a senior government functionary said. The move, senior officials added, will help check any attempt by political parties to link riots with votebank politics.
Sources claimed in the past year-and-a-half that the Samajwadi Party has been in power in UP, the state has witnessed as many as 40 incidents of communal clashes of varying intensity. Thus, the Centre is now firm on sending out a strong signal to the UP government in case another incident happens.
But given the delicate balance of power at the Centre, where UPA is dependent on the SP for its support, the Centre, in the days to come, will extend more support to the state in terms of financial and rehabilitation package as well as deployment of more Central para-military forces.
Realising fully well that such incidents could result in major polarisation of votes in an electorally important state like UP that has 80 Lok Sabha seats, the Congress, sources said, wants to be seen as sending out a strong message on protecting the minorities. It is for this reason that both the PM and Ms Gandhi during their recent visit to relief camps in riot hit Muzzafarnagar had assured all help to the affected people.

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