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Governor’s post above politics

Meghalaya Governor, Dr Tathagatha Roy an eminent person in his own right could have been an exemplary appointee to the Shillong Raj Bhavan by rising above party politics and refraining from making public statements that are provocative and overtly partisan. His tweet asking people of India to boycott ‘everything Kashmiri’ which includes Kashmiri products is unbecoming at a time when there is need to maintain calm as averse to being jingoistic. Every Indian feels the pain of losing 40 CRPF jawans on Feb 14, due to the IED attack but war-mongering or verbal attacks aimed at an entire population are uncalled for. This is not the first time that Governor Roy has sent out controversial tweets or made provocative statements.

Meghalaya’s past governors like BK Nehru, MM Jacob and Dr KK Paul lent dignity to the post they held. The Shillong Raj Bhavan fell from grace after a Governor appointed by the NDA Government was sent packing on allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour. It goes to show that not every appointee can carry with dignity the post of a constitutional head.

A key debate in the Constituent Assembly was on the appointment of governors. There were vociferous demands then that a governor should be elected, not appointed because in a democracy the head of the state should be directly elected by the people. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru however differed. His contention was that an elected governor would become a parallel authority to the elected chief minister. This would hamper the normal functioning of the state. But Nehru wanted the governor to be an eminent person, respected in his field, whether in academics, science or the arts. He did not favour a political appointee, a person whom the ruling party sought to elevate to this august office. But Nehru never imagined that even the constitutional head could be used by his own Party to serve its ends. It was the Congress Party under Indira Gandhi that first used Article 356 which empowers the Centre to dismiss an elected government if there was a “breakdown” in the law and order in a state after getting a report from the Governor of that state.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir is under Governor’s rule today and questions should rightly be put to the Governor there about the security lapse that resulted in the death of the 40 brave-hearts. It is high time to review the procedure of selection of governors and stop making the Constitutional post a retirement job for politicians, retired bureaucrats, police chiefs and army generals. In fact it is time the country debates whether Governors are at all needed.

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