Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Double engine, double trouble

Opposition parties in power in their respective states are having more than their fair share of trouble which are coming from a most unexpected source- Raj Bhavan- where the incumbent governors are virtually are breaking every convention of democracy by targeting the ruling non-NDA parties. Since 2014 after the BJP swept to power at the Centre, the ruling party has ensured that the Centre established its hold over the administrative and political system. States ruled by non-NDA parties are currently facing “double heat” from the “double-engine” government. Besides frequent harassment by ED, CBI and NIA, the governors seem to know more about creating hurdles for the government. The constant battle between Delhi Lt. Governor Saxena against the AAP government in Delhi, has paralysed the administration. Two ministers of AAP are in jail and perhaps it could be anyone’s turn next. The new West Bengal governor C.V. Ananda Bose who had initially been courteous to chief minister Mamata Banerjee has probably been hauled up by the centre and now he’s done a U-turn and emulated his predecessor Jagdeep Dhankar. Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan, has also literally turned hostile against the LDF government at every stage. In neighboring Tamil Nadu, governor R.N. Ravi’s repeated anti-government outbursts and stalling legislations have caused the ruling DMK its biggest headache. This in addition to the arrest of a DMK minister by ED. Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit has also used appointments of VCs as in Kerala as a flashpoint to take up cudgels against the AAP government. In Telangana, governor Tamilisai Soundararajan is also at war with the BRS government. She has rejected all eight bills passed by the BRS government. The use of governors as political tools is not something new in Indian politics since even the Congress and later the Janata Party indulged in destabilizing and eventually dismissing the governments run by parties not aligned with the ruling party at the Centre. However, during the tenures of the Congress and Janata Party governments; the governors played their games behind closed doors. After 2014 everything changed when the BJP threw all conventions to the wind. Earlier, governors were meant to be seen and not heard except when delivering addresses to the state assemblies or at convocations as chancellors of state universities. Presently BJP-appointed governors of states ruled by the non-NDA parties are taking on the opposition-ruled state governments. This is a very unhealthy and potentially a serious threat on the constitutional provisions in respect of the role and functions of the governor. The opposition-ruled state chief ministers, ministers and MLAs are either targeted by the ED, CBI and NIA under various pretexts while the governors become thorns on their sides. What is more serious is that today the governors posted in these states have become aggressive by using every opportunity to publicly assail their state government’s decisions and portray them in bad light. Governors and ruling parties embody a cooperative and not destructive federalism as both play vital roles in democracy. During the tenure of BJP’s first prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, he discouraged governors from crossing the Lakshman-Rekha of constitutional probity because he respected democracy and that is how it should be.

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