Home arrow Archives arrow Political Diary arrow Political Diary-2016 arrow Governor: Centre’s Chaprasi: NEED TO LAY DOWN NEW RULES, By Poonam I Kaushish, 30 Jan, 2016
News and Features
INFA Digest
Parliament Spotlight
Journalism Awards
Governor: Centre’s Chaprasi: NEED TO LAY DOWN NEW RULES, By Poonam I Kaushish, 30 Jan, 2016 Print E-mail

Political Diary

New Delhi, 30 January 2016

Governor: Centre’s Chaprasi


By Poonam I Kaushish


Whoever said different political strokes for different political folks was dead on. Specially when it comes to the high Constitutional office of the Governor. Wherein handpicked loyalists do whatever their mai baaps sitting on India’s Raj gaddi want. Governance, after all is one big nautanki which has rewritten the basic time-honoured rules of authority and turned democracy on its head. Bend them, break them, who cares!


Alas, the continuing charade being played out in Arunachal Pradesh between Governor Rajkhova, dethroned Chief Minister Tuki and Delhi has once again brutally exposed two highly reprehensible facets of our rulers’ democratic temper.


At the political level, governance is shamelessly all about cutting deals, side deals and underhand deals. At the Constitutional level, the BJP finds itself in hot waters with the Supreme Court asking the Centre to clarify the urgency in imposing President’s rule in the State.


The sordid tale has its genesis in the Governor preponing the Assembly session to mid-December to test the majority of Tuki’s Government as 21 of Congress’s 47 MLAs had rebelled and joined hands with 11 BJP legislators in the 60-member House. Tuki reportedly closed the gates of the Assembly and an extraordinary session was held in a community hall wherein rebel Congress-BJP MLAs removed the Speaker who had disqualified 14 of the 21 legislators.


Predictably, all hell broke lose resulting in the Governor citing collapse of law and order, open threats to him and his family by Tuki and his MLAs, cow slaughter outside the Raj Bhawan, refusal of bureaucrats to submit any report to his Office without clearance from the Chief Minister. 


On his part, Tuki and the Congress blame the Governor of trying to split the Party and install a BJP Government with Congress rebels. Notwithstanding, the BJP accuses the Congress of the pot calling the kettle black, it finds itself on the back foot as it has to satisfy the Court the urgency of imposing Central rule, as it was already seized of the matter.


Adding to its woes, the Court has sought the Centre’s clarification on who can demand a Governor’s resignation as it hears two petitions filed by ex-Uttarkhand Governor Qureshi and his Puducherry counterpart Kataria. Pointing out that there was no written communication to the Governor, the Court wondered under what circumstances the Union Home Secretary had called the States’ Constitutional head.


Refusing the Central explanation that the senior bureaucrat had merely sought the Governor’s opinion in a “friendly” manner, the Bench questioned how any body could pick up the phone and asked a Constitutional functionary to quit. Terming it a “very serious matter”, it has threatened to lay down a format for communication with high Constitutional dignitaries.


Call it déjà vu or Et tu NDA, either which way Modi NDA’s is no different from National Front VP Singh’s 1989, Vajpayee’s 1999 nor UPA’s 2004 who got Governors appointed by their predecessors to resign. Since 2014 nine Governors have resigned, Kerala’s Sheila Dikshit, Maharashtra’s Sankarnarayana, W Bengal’s Narayanan, UP’s Joshi, Pudicherry’s Kataria, Goa’s Wanchoo, K Sankaranarayanan (Maharashtra), MK Narayanan (West Bengal), Ashwani Kumar (Nagaland), BL Joshi (UP), BV Wanchoo (Goa) and Shekhar Dutt (Chhattisgarh), have already resigned after being nudged by the NDA government.

V Purushothaman, the governor of Mizoram, had resigned after he was transferred to Nagaland in July this year.
Nagaland’s Ashwani Kumar, Chhattisgarh’s Shekhar Dutt and Mizoram’s Purushothaman.


Notwithstanding, a 2010 Supreme Court ruling which laid down that a change of Government at the Centre was not a ground to remove Governors, even if they were out of sync with the policies and political ideologies of the Party in power.


Expectedly, this new nadir has once again raised questions about a Governor’s role, qualifications and his Constitutional obligations and duties. Raising a moot point: Is he the Centre’s kathputli? Or, the keeper of the people’s faith as the Constitutional head of a State. Importantly, are there any rules to underscore some semblance, coherence and uniformity in gubernatorial actions? A charter of directions and guidelines.


Sadly, in a milieu of you scratch my back and I yours, over 60% of the present lot of Governors are active politicians, Saffron Sangh cahoots and the rest ‘pliable’ bureaucrats etc. Underscoring, the Governor has become a convenient tool of the Centre. Specially in Opposition-ruled States.


He runs the administration by proxy. By playing the I-spy game --- petty politricking, gross interference, open partisanship ---at the Centre’s behest. Sending for files, summoning Ministers and bureaucrats. To hear, entice, provoke and register the voice of dissent against the State Government to his political patrons in Delhi. Bluntly, make life hell for the Chief Minister at every step and use it as a springboard to return to active politics.     


Instances are aplenty. Circa 2008: Meghalaya, Circa 2007: Karnataka, Circa 2005: Goa, Bihar and Jharkhand. The common denominator? Each Governor interpreting or should one say misinterpreting the rule book any which way he wants, drawing his own conclusions based more often than not on delusions as long as he and his benefactors at the Centre could rule the roost.


Moreover, it has become the perfect lollypop for political castaways, parting gifts for subservient bureaucrats and convenient posts for inconvenient rivals. The essential criteria for a Governor’s selection is no longer whether he is a man of stature and known for his integrity and objectivity, but whether the man can be a yes-man, a chamcha.


Top experts affirm that the basic role of the Governor is not just to represent the Centre but, as the head of the State, to serve his people and fight their battles with the Centre, not vice versa. He has to bear in mind the overall national interest, not partisan party interests.


The Constitution empowers him to influence the decisions of an elected Government by giving him the right “to be consulted, to warn and encourage” His role is overwhelmingly that of a “friend, philosopher and guide” to his Council of Ministers with unrivalled discretion.


As noted by Sarkaria Commission and endorsed by the Supreme Court, the Governor’s role is that of “a Constitutional sentinel and that of vital link between the Union and the State…Being the holder of an independent Constitutional office, the Governor is not a subordinate or subservient agent of the Union Government.”


Pertinently, the Commission made two weighty recommendations. One, the Governor should be appointed in consultation with the Chief Minister of the State. Two, his tenure of five years should not be disturbed, except in rare circumstances for “extremely compelling reasons”. But these lie buried.   


What next? Sadly, all lament the decline of the Governor office but continue to misuse and abuse it for personal and Party ends. Not only does it generate bad blood between Lilliputian politicians but in its wake denigrates the Constitution.


Clearly, Arunachal is a lesson on the dangers of appointing political hatchet men to high offices which calls for fairness, uprightness and adherence to Constitutional values and conventions. It needs to be revamped and restored to its old glory. Remember, what matters are not men but institutions. One can tit for an individual but not tat on the State.


Time to rise above politics and appoint neutral non-political Governors. As long as the Centre continues to play petty, partisan politics, India and its unity will be greatly hurt. The Governor must not be reduced to being a who’s who to who? who? A glorified chaprasi!  ---- INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)





< Previous   Next >
  Mambo powered by Best-IT