President’s Rule in India: State Emergency or Political Capture?

Originally published in Social Science Research Network

Emergency provisions allow federal governments to intervene swiftly but create op- portunities for political capture. We analyze how this tension plays out in the world’s largest federal republic, India. Article 356 of the Indian constitution (President’s Rule) allows the union (federal) cabinet to dismiss a state government and dissolve the elected state legislature, if the federally appointed state governor recommends the dismissal for emergencies, including political crises and natural disasters. Using an original panel data set of Indian states from 1952 until 2019, we find that Article 356 leads to the political capture of states by the Union (federal) govern- ment. More specifically, we find that (1) the likelihood of invoking Article 356 is almost exclusively determined by the political strength of the parties forming state governments, (2) natural or man-made emergencies are not significant predictors of invoking Article 356, and (3) judicial safeguards added in 1994 significantly reduced Article 356 imposition.

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