Is it time to do away with governors, often acting disgracefully as Centre’s stooges?

The governors appointed by the BJP-led Centre in some states have been unabashedly acting as the party’s political stewards, violating constitutional provisions with impunity

Photo courtesy: Social Media
Photo courtesy: Social Media

Binoy Viswam

Under the RSS-BJP rule, the meaning and spirit of federalism is being routinely violated by those serving as governors in many parts of the country. Such individuals clearly think nothing of making unjustifiable interventions which hinder the functioning of democratically elected state governments.

The Constitution discusses about the powers and duties of the governor elaborately. From Article 153, several provisions are incorporated by the framers of the Constitution with the proclaimed purpose of ensuring healthy Centre-State relation.

However, the political agenda of those who run the show at the Centre has often undermined the novel scriptures attached to the governors’ office. Their tendency to centralise everything often turn the governors as just an instrument to impose their wishes.

The makers of the Constitution envisaged the governor to perform the role of a meaningful link between the Centre and the states. Mutual understanding and respect between governments at the Centre and the state is an ideal situation that helps both the entities.

However, the RSS-controlled ruling dispensation at the Centre is in a frenzy to overshadow everything held sacred in our federal structure. For them, the states and the state governments are to be treated as inferiors who exist just to execute their whims and fancies.

Such a situation has created tedious challenges in the realm of Centre-state relations.

The BJP-led Union government has made it a practice to hand-pick governors of their choice, without caring for a criterion such as political wisdom of statesmanship. Now, die-hard RSS supporters, with undisputable loyalty to its ideology, have become incumbents of the Raj Bhawan/Raj Niwas in different states.

Such ‘Swayamsevak governors’ go on to convert their Raj Bhawans into a camp office of the BJP. They willingly and happily execute the prescriptions of partisan politics prepared by BJP heavyweights. They seek and act as if they are deputed to the states just to fulfil the wishes of the BJP in the concerned states.

Governors appointed in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Maharashtra and Punjab, in particular, have been acting as the political stewards of the BJP, violating even the basic doctrines of democracy. Not so long ago, in some states, once the election process concluded, a bid was made to deploy governors to install BJP governments with cooked up majority.

It is shameful to see governors, who are supposed to abide by their constitutional roles, irrespective of political considerations, competing with each other to become ‘more Christian than the Pope’.

Arif Mohammed Khan, the governor of Kerala is, for instance, doing everything possible to become number one in this race. His only aim seems to be the appeasement of the Modi-Amit Shah duo. In a state like Kerala where democratic norms are held in high esteem, every now and then, Khan attempts to dig up controversies. Labelled as a ‘comparatively new convert of the RSS’, he is creating opportunities to prove his ideological loyalty and political subservience to the Sangh Parivar. He seems to believe that confronting the only Left Democratic government in the country is the easiest way to find a place in the good books of the Parivar.

The latest controversy he is embroiled in revolves about a seminar in 2019 organised by the Kannur University. Arif Mohammed Khan had no hesitation to call the vice chancellor, a renowned academic, ‘a criminal’. The internationally acclaimed historian Dr Irfan Habib was also targeted by the governor by using unexpected words from such a high office.

Such acts may be useful for his political ambitions, but they are unworthy for the office that he holds.

The relevance of governorship in an independent India has often been debated, but with the ascendance of the RSS-BJP to power, the authoritarian tendency has grown many-fold, leading to some governors being engaged in unseemly, unconstitutional and downright immoral acts.

In this background, the question whether the office of the governor now needs to be done away with needs to be seriously debated and conclusively answered in the interest of the country’s democratic ethos.

(IPA Service)

Views are personal

(The writer is a Rajya Sabha MP)

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Published: 25 Aug 2022, 9:00 PM