STRANGE ROLE (OF GOVERNORS)

Cover image: Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala inviting the BJP to form government day before yesterday and allowing Yeddyurappa to take oath yesterday (courtesy The Indian Express)

 

ReadIsaac Gomesers of CCV can read below, a very incisive editorial in the Telegraph Calcutta.  It dissects the role of Governors in India today.  Do we need Governors in today's scenario?  It appears they are remote controlled by the powers-that-be and forget that they are Constitutional bodies and that the dignity of their post demands that they rise above any affinity to their estwhile political masters. Day before yesterday's invitation by the Karnataka Governor is a clear case.  No one, not even the Press, except BJP, was in the know of what was to pan out.   They had even tweeted that that B.S. Yeddyurappa  would be sworn in as Chief Minister of Karnataka. No other governor has acted in such a slippery manner without an official press release. It is high time, Governors are done away with. If anything, they are just a drain on the nation's exchequer.  Isaac Gomes, Asso. Editor, Church Citizens' Voice.

 

Governors are now deciding the political fate of states. It does not matter that the Constitution never gave governors such power; in new India, they make and break precedents at will — or according to their political loyalties.

The governor of Karnataka, Vajubhai Vala, is a shining example of this new breed. He has invited the Bharatiya Janata Party, presumably as the largest single party, to form the government in Karnataka, ignoring the claims of the Congress and Janata Dal ( Secular) combine, which had got together after the elections. Without specific directions in the Constitution regarding who the governor should call first in case of a hung verdict, this issue has often caused controversy. The M. M. Punchhi Commission, and the Sarkaria Commission before it, had recommended that either parties with a pre-poll alliance or the largest single party should be called first. Post-poll alliances are to be considered if these failed. This precedent was decisively overturned in 2017 by successive governors when in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya, the governors called the BJP to form the government in post-poll alliances although the Congress had been the single largest party in each state. Since the Supreme Court upheld the Goa decision, this, then, could be considered the new precedent.

Mr Vala simply overturned that. He seems to have gone back to the single largest party principle and it so happens that the BJP is the single largest party this time. Since with each overriding of precedent, convention and recommendations, it is always the BJP that is gaining — adding more states to its kitty on the way to its target of commanding governments in all states as its party president wants — it has to be acknowledged that the institution of the governor has been completely undermined. Governors, like the president, are supposed to be above politics. Because they are appointed by the ruling government of the day, they are occasionally accused of political bias but that is far from ideal. Now it seems that it is almost expected that governors shall act in the interest of the dominant party, ignoring convention and precedent.

Mr Vala has given the BJP 15 days to prove its majority, apparently allowing time for as much poaching on the rival parties as possible. As governor, he clearly has no qualms about encouraging corruption. Governors in new India seem to have travelled quite a distance from their constitutional role.

 
 

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