In seventies for the first time in the wake installation of anti-Congress united front governments across the country, the demand was raised to abolish the office of the Governors as they were acting like the puppets of the parties which ruled Delhi. But this could not acquire enough momentum as most of the UF governments ceased to exit. Obviously the system continued.

The actions of two governors during the last week has once against brought the issue of relevance of the office of the governors on the centre stage of the Indian politics. The first has been of the Rajasthan Governor, Kalraj Mishra’s role and the second, the binary approach of the West Bengal governor. Jagdeep Dhankar’s towards Mamata Banerjee.

Mishra’s action simply reinforces the belief that he treats himself as a BJP leader. For him protecting the interest of the party is more important than preserving the tenets of the Constitution. He is under moral obligation to take orders from his political bosses sitting in Delhi. For him the Constitution by which he swore before becoming Governor has no relevance.

The political turmoil in Rajasthan has shown the ugly face of the office of the governor. He rejected the recommendation of Gehlot government for an assembly session. What has been most shocking is he fails to muster courage to call a spade a spade. He lacks conviction to say that he would not convene the house as it does not suit the wishes of the political masters.

He has been against allowing Ashok Gehlot seek the confidence of the House. Mishra knows that allowing Gehlot would imply defeat of Modi-Shah machination. While vetoing Gehlot’s proposal for a floor test, he had said that “the Raj Bhavan has no intention of not calling an assembly session” and asked the state government to submit a fresh proposal. As he is no intention to foil Gehlot’s move, then what what made him not to convene the house? It is really shocking that Mishra has been resorting to this type of horrid game in spite of facing peoples’ ridicule and condemnation. It is astonishing how could a person like him trample Constitution to please Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

He ought to realise that his actions were not only smearing the image of his leaders, but were also denigrating and insulting the democracy and holy epic, the Constitution of India. A closer look at the recent development nevertheless makes it clear that these BJP leaders’ obeisance to Constitution and democracy is simply a façade.

Articles 163 and 174 of the Constitution deal with the governor’s role in convening an assembly session. But it at the same time guarantees the right to speaker to assert his authority. In Rajasthan the office of speaker was meted with utter contempt. In the present context, the case of West Bengal in 1960’s can be mentioned.

The first United Front Ministry in West Bengal was dismissed by the Governor on November 21, 1967, and thereafter a new Cabinet headed by P. C. Ghosh, leader of the newly constituted Progressive Democratic Front, was sworn in. The Governor summoned the Assembly to meet on November 29, to obtain the necessary vote of confidence for Ghosh's ministry. When the House met on the scheduled day, Bijoy Kumar Banerjee, the Speaker of the Assembly, in his ruling, said that the dismissal of the UF Ministry, the appointment of P. C. Ghosh as Chief Minister and the summoning- of the House on Ghosh's advice, were “unconstitutional and invalid" as they had been "effected behind the back of the House." After reading out this ruling the Speaker adjourned the House sine die. He said “I find it impossible to recognise as legal, valid and constitutional the dissolution of the Council of Ministers headed by Shri Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee.” The Governor or the judiciary did not intervene.

In 2016, responding to the observation that the Governor is the nominee of the President, the SC said that “such a nominee cannot have overriding powers over the representatives of the people who constitute the House or Houses of the State Legislature and/or even the executive government functioning under the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as its head”.

In 1994, the SC’s landmark Bommai judgment sought to curb the misuse of Article 356 to unseat state governments led by parties opposed to the ruling party at the Centre, and laid down clear limits of the governor’s authority.

The Rajasthan Cabinet on Tuesday rejected conditions put forward by Governor Kalraj Mishra on holding a state assembly session, saying it is the right of the government to hold a session, but the Governor is unmoved. Mishra is still not willing to convene house. Rajasthan has been witnessing high decibel political drama for more than two weeks now. Mishra must make it clear whether he thinks that the Gehlot government has lost its majority and that he is not bound by its advice to summon the House as has been advised?

In Bengal Dhankar is on war path. Dhankar, who had continuous running feud with the government over several issues including law and order, ration for the poor and education said; “I am not a stakeholder in politics, but have undoubted stakes in governance in the state given my constitutional obligations and would ever insist supremacy in the constitution and the rule of law in governance”. Training his guns at the police department, which is under Banerjee, Dhankhar claimed that governance in the state is police driven.

Ever since he took office he has launched a war against her and made use of every available opportunity to denigrate her. He has been angry with her as she does not allow him to use the police for helping and promoting the cause of the BJP leaders. It is for the first time in Bengal that Dhankar insinuates Mamata even for trivial issues like cleaning of drains. He treats the bureaucrats like serfs. It is an open secret that some senior BJP leaders have been using Governor for their operations.

The immediate reason for Dhankar launching a war against Mamata emanates from the simple incident of her lodging protest with Narendra Modi at a meeting. During an online programme where Modi inaugurated new COVID-19 testing facilities in West Bengal, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, Mamata alleged that "a few people holding constitutional posts" are disturbing the state government regularly. At this Dhankhar next day slammed her for lodging “unwarranted” complaints against him with Modi. He even wrote a letter to her stating; “I am stunned and shocked. I take strong exception to such uncharitable, unfounded and unmerited stance. These are unbecoming of the position you hold”.

It is worth mentioning that Dhankar last week had called on Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi and discussed the alarming rise in COVID-19 deaths and positive cases, lawlessness and wanton targeting of political opponents, and rampant corruption in Cyclone Amphan relief.” The fact cannot be ignored that the governor was acting “more dangerously” than a BJP mouthpiece and that doesn’t suit someone holding a constitutional post. (IPA Service)