Gubernatorial crisis

Present-day politics is all about mud-slinging, name-calling and divide-and-rule—all for power and pelf. The Governor is expected to act in an impartial manner to maintain the decorum and dignity of his office. It is unbecoming of him to act like an agent of a political party. But Governor of Karnataka, Mr HR Bhardwaj, not deviating from the party’s well-established norms of sabotaging the non-party government, which are eating into the vitals of country’s democracy, has chosen to play a despicably partisan role, making a mockery of the constitutional post he holds and bringing shame to his office. The direct involvement of Mr Bhardwaj in manufacturing dissent among a handful of BJP MLAs and Independent Legislators in order to destabilise the government headed by Mr BS Yeddyurappa has been evident all along. It is amazing that these 16 MLAs, who should have submitted their resignation letters to the Speakers if their dissent were genuine, chose to meet Mr Bhardwaj at Raj Bhavan and informed him of their ‘decision’. Sticking to the script drafted by him, the Governor asked Mr Yeddyurappa to seek a vote of confidence to demonstrate his majority on the floor of the Assembly. This was nothing but a deceitful ploy to pretend adherence to constitutionalism while working overtime to undermine the Constitution.

                Under the Indian Constitution, the Governor of a state is a symbolic repository of its executive powers and acts chiefly on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. At the same time, persons occupying such a position may properly provide counsel to the state government privately and without being intrusive. But the Governor committed one constitutional blunder after another, giving the BJP enough handle to operate political lever in Delhi to throw mud on the face of the Congress at the centre. The Governor committed a major constitutional blunder by instructing and then warning Legislative Assembly Speaker KG Bopaiah on maintaining the status of the House as it existed before October 11. In effect, he told the Speaker that he cannot disqualify the rebel MLAs under the Anti-Defection Act. Constitutionally speaking, the Speaker is the final authority in deciding on the Anti-Defection Act. The office of the Governor cannot issue any instructions. It is like President Prathiba Patil instructing PM Manmohan on the character of the Lok Sabha. It seems that those behind the scene did not do their home work properly before start of the project and Yeddyurappa comfortably won the test-1.

The Governor is a constitutional head of a state. He has two options only. He may call the Chief Minister or any of his Ministers for discussion on any matter which he considers to be serious. But, Governor Bhardwaj has insolently and brazenly shed the restraint, required of his office, by publicly demanding that Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa take action against two of his ministers, and by assuming an activist role in this matter. What is seriously perturbing is that not adhering to high standards of political morality, Mr Bhardwaj committed more serious breach by talking to the media about the alleged illegal mining operations and on other issues—prior to sending his report to the President on all issues. Apart from placing himself in direct conflict with the elected government, Mr Bhardwaj has, by his impropriety, lent credence to the allegation that he has acted as an “agent of the Congress” in meddling with the ugly political controversy raging in Karnataka. If it is too much for him to show the restraint, dignity, and even-handedness expected of the Governor’s office, he must resign or be replaced forthwith. In spite of all shenanigans by Karnataka Governor HC Bhardwaj, Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa-led Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka, on 16-10-2010, passed the second floor test in under four days with ease. However, the trust vote outcome is subject to the verdict of the Karnataka High Court in the case relating to the disqualification of 16 legislators. So in a way the fate of the Yeddyurappa government is still hanging in balance.

The Constitution clearly provides that the Governor should not meddle with governance of the state. In contrast to this the present incumbent in Karnataka Mr Bhardwaj openly commented that the ministers who involved in the mining scam should be dropped and he even embarked to New Delhi for removal of the those ministers. By doing this he is clearly outsmarting the contitutional restrains. The basic reason for such outsmarting is that for the post of governors the central governments have only politically unemployables to fill the gubernatorial post. After occupying such high constitutional positions they have been flagrantly overstepping their powers and indulge in such unwanted acts. The happenings in the Karnataka Assembly force us to rethink the authenticity of politicians’ interest in serving the people. It is high time that we should amend the Constitution in such a manner that active political leaders should be debarred from holding the posts of governors.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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