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Governors in the NDA regime and their tryst with controversies

NEW DELHI: Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan is the latest among NDA appointees to Raj Bhawan since 2014 who have been in the thick of controversies. Several governors in the last five years have been engaged in a running feud with the state government concerned or had differences with civil society activists.

While the debate on whether Khan was right in talking about Citizenship Amendment Act as he holds a constitutional post or revered historian Irfan Habib exceeded limits of decency by asking him to talk about Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin is still on, deeds of other governors have not been as nebulous.

West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankar has had strained relations with chief minister Mamata Banerjee since he assumed office on July 30, 2019. Though the governor does not have much discretionary powers in signing Bills passed by the Assembly, Dhankar has refused to give assent to some legislations. His brush with Jadhavpur University students too has shown him in a bad light.

Dhankar’s predecessor Kesari Nath Tripathi also had major differences with Banerjee though his remarks on some cases of violence and vandalism in the state were not off the mark.

Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi’s differences with chief minister V Narayanasamy came to a point where he was driven to write to President Ram Nath Kovind that the “autocratic” LG should be removed. Some of the senior BJP leaders at the Centre have tried to reason with her from time to time but to no avail. Bedi drew criticism for acts outside Puducherry as well. She was the chief guest at an RSS organised programme where students were enacting the razing of Babri mosque and she did not react to it.

Maharashtra governor BS Koshiyari’s tenure has been far from spotless. The manner in which he administered oath to Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar early morning without ascertaining that the two had the numbers to form the government raised many eyebrows.

Similarly, the way former J&K governor Satya Pal Malik acted when the Opposition parties were about to approach him to form the government did not win him any admirers. The excuse that the fax machine at Raj Bhawan was not working was lame.

Meghalaya governor Tathagata Roy wears his ideology on his sleeve and his tweets have been highly controversial. He has virtually acted as a BJP member in the Raj Bhawan. Roy’s predecessor in Meghalaya Raj Bhawan, V Shanmuganathan had to resign from after just one and a half years in office in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

The change in stance of governors when a BJP government takes over has also been visible. Former UP governor Ram Naik had issues with Samajwadi Party government. Once Yogi Adityanath took over as CM, Naik turned into a mentor for the BJP MLAs and guided them on the dos and don’ts.

Since the governors are appointed by the President – clearly at the behest of the party in power at the Centre – and continue in office “during the pleasure of the President” as per Article 155 and 156, they have nothing to worry as long as they toe the Centre’s line. However, several NDA governors have let down the high office they occupy.

Source: Economic Times