Beware Of Blinkered Bhardwajs
The Chief Minister of Karnataka BS Yeddyurappa has again corroborated his words. In an interview with me carried in Uday India last week, the CM had said that he had effectively passed so many agnipariksha and each of these difficult situation “has given me more strength and as far as the present situation is concerned, I am 100 per cent sure that the democratic norm will be upheld” and his government would be allowed to function. And Yeddyurappa has stood his ground and passed a rigorous test despite an antagonistic Governor, who was hell-bent on dislodging his government, exhausting all the unconstitutional means at his disposal. In fact, Governor HR Bhardwaj has been hoisted with his own petards as the central government has turned down his report recommending President’s rule in Karnataka, thus registering a severe jolt to him. This action was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs, which met immediately after the UPA government celebrated the second year of its consecutive term in power. It cannot be gainsaid that good wisdom prevailed on the Congress-led UPA government, as it would not have been possible to act on the Governor’s report. For one, the Congress does not have the numbers in the Rajya Sabha to validate President’s rule, and secondly, it had no intention of making a martyr of Yeddyurappa. Furthermore, for Mr Yeddyurappa, Mr Bhardwaj’s recommendation for imposition of President’s rule came as a blessing in disguise. For the first time, he found the party’s central and state leadership coming together, throwing its full weight behind him to see to it that Mr Bhardwaj did not have his way. And, it is all but certain now that in the remaining two years of his five-year term, the chances of Mr Yeddyurappa being troubled by his party colleagues will be minimal.
However, it has been clear for a long time that the Congress Party has been using the office of Governor to place its agents in Opposition-ruled states to try to destabilise the state governments. Therefore, the position of Governor should be added to those at centre like the CVC, the CBI Director, and similar posts, where the participation and involvement of the main Opposition party could ensure a less partisan candidate, who is appointed to these posts. But it is unlikely that such a solution would be accepted by the Congress Party whose conduct in most instances has been anything but objective. Eventually, the Supreme Court may have to intervene to rectify matters. Though, the idea behind appointing the Governors under the parliamentary system of government prescribed by the Constitution was that the Governor was to be the constitutional head of the state and the real executive power being vested in the ministry responsible to the legislature. But, more often that not the Governors have been working like agents of the Centre. This was witnessed quite evidentally in Karnataka, as from the day one of his assuming office as Governor of Karnataka, HR Bhardwaj tried his best to give some or other troubles to Yeddyurappa’s government. His intention from his actions is clear that he just wanted to dethrone BJP government in the state. The Governor has stated publicly that he is first and foremost a Congressman. This itself shows that he has entered the office as an active politician and not as a neutral constitutional authority. Thus, Mr Bhardwaj, through his actions, has again brought to the fore the issue of governors acting as political agents of the centre in states ruled by opposition parties. Although the Bommai judgment has limited the partisan use of Article 356 of the Constitution impossible, the case of Mr Bhardwaj highlights the dangers of possible misuse of the powers vested in the office of Governor. Despite their clearly defined constitutional role, Governors, with the backing of the centre, have from time to time played the super-Chief Minister, threatening the very federal structure of the polity. If this situation is not to continue indefinitely, Mr Bhardwaj must be made an example of. His continuance in the Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru is no longer tenable. Also with so many mega-corruption charges and inefficiencies, shouldn’t the UPA focus on governance and setting its house in order? But it seems to have such a perpetual foot-in-the-mouth disease!