The Indian Constitution says:
“There shall be council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions except in so far as he is by or under the Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.”
It is this word – discretion – that has been used and abused so many times – that the Article 356 has become a notorious term in India’s socio-political annals.
And it has been done mainly by killing the institution of the Governor. A Constitutional position, something that our forefathers had envisioned, has been rendered so toothless that it is seen now either as a retirement job or an office to follow whatever dictum the Union Government issues.
A mere look at the present state Governors would be more than self-explanatory.
20 Indian states and two Union Territories with legislatures have NDA Governors now. Three Governors are holding additional charges of once state each. That makes overall 17 NDA appointed Governors.
Of these 17, 14 are former BJP politicians. The other three are known to have pro-BJP tilt – ex-CJI P. Sathasivam (Kerala) – J.P. Rajkhowa (Arunachal Pradesh) and Acharya Dev Vrat (Himachal Pradesh). Similarly is the case with the Lieutenant-Governors of Delhi and Puducherry.
They are either the BJP men and have been efficiently co-opted by the BJP – as is the case with non-political Governors appointed by the NDA – or even with the Governors appointed by the UPA.
Nine states still have Governors appointed by the UPA.
Some of them are completing their terms this year and some the next year. And none of these states have a BJP government. Yes, the party in alliance in two states – in Andhra Pradesh (TDP) and in J&K (PDP) – but the Governors of both of these states are retired bureaucrats and working with bureaucrats is always easy than with politicians. They are always amenable to be co-opted.
Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, who has the additional charge of Telangana, is completing his term next year. He is a former IPS officer and IB Director. N.N. Vohra, who is J&K’s Governor since June 2008, is a former Union Home and Defence Secretary.
Tamil Nadu and Odisha have strong non-BJP state governments with strong chief ministers and the BJP would not like to have adventures here. K Rosaiah, a Congress man and the former Andhra Pradesh chief minister, was appointed Tamil Nadu’s Governor in August 2011 while S.C. Jamir, a former Congress chief minister of Nagaland is Odisha’s Governor since March 2013.
Ram Naresh Yadav, the controversial Madhya Pradesh Governor, is an old Janata Party name though he contested his last election on a Congress ticket. As a Janata Party MLA, he was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh from 1977 to 1979.
K. K. Paul who was shifted from Mizoram to Uttarakhand in January 2015, is again a UPA appointee. He was appointed by the UPA Government as the Meghalaya Governor in July 2013. He is a retired IPS officer and the former Delhi Police Commissioner.
Governors of Mizoram and Sikkim, electorally unimportant states, have former Indian government officials as their Governors. Mizoram’s Nirbhay Sharma, who has been transferred from Arunachal Pradesh, is a retired Indian Army official while Sikkim’s Shriniwas Patil, though an NCP MP, is a retired bureaucrat. Also, these two peaceful north-east states don’t have governments, either of the BJP or any of its ally.
All these are either retired bureaucrats or politicians having connection with the rightwing ideologies at some point in their life. Those who have not been amenable are in the exit zone with their terms coming to end in coming some months.
So, those who hold the office are directly under the control of the Union Government – willingly or unwillingly.
And every government does so – politicising and ruining the institution of the Governor – be it the BJP or the Congress or Janata Party or Janata coalition!