The constitution of India provides for a parliamentary form of government at states. Consequently the governor has been made a nominal executive and the real executive consists of council of ministers headed by chief minister.Several questions and problems arise regarding the Role of Governor in India in state politics.One of the prominent area of contention is whether governor is an agent of centre.
There are few articles in the constitution which make the governor an important link in the chain of relationship between union and states.
- Article 160 states that president may confer on governor functions in any contingency not provided in the constitution.
- Under Art 200 ,the governor reserve bills for the consideration of president.
- Article 167 keeps an obligation upon chief minister to keep the governor informed of the affairs of the state and the later informs the president.
- Article 257 provides that the executive power of the state shall be so exercised as not to prejudice the exercise of the executive power of union,meaning that governor should follow the advise and instructions of the president.
Analyzing these provisions it is pertinent to ask ,has he merely to function as the good boy of the centre or can he exercise his own judgement and discretion.Has these provisions led to utter politicization of the position and role of Governor in India.
Under Article 356,the president can declare emergency in a state on receipt of a report from governor or otherwise if he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which government of state cannot be carried out in accordance with provisions of the constitution.The governor while sending his report has to use his won discretion and judgement.However there are hundreds and more cases of imposition of presidents rule in states ,a large number would appear to be on discretion not backed by objectivity and rationality and has created controversies.For instance when BJP withdrew support to minority BSP govt in UP in 1995,the governor kept the state assembly in suspended animation interpreting S.R Bommai case.However the same governor did exactly opposite at the behest of his erstwhile party’s top leadership after 12 days when he recommended for dissolution of assembly.
The politicization of the position of the governor has degraded his role as the head of the government. The central govt continues to flout the sarkaria commission recommendation that active politicians shouldn’t be appointed as governor.In the recent past former Karnataka Chief minister S.M Krishna was appointed as governor of Maharashtra and his subsequent appointment as external affairs minister.
Pre 1967 to Post 1967 analysis of role of Governor in India:
Before 1967 when there was one party system at the centre as well as state led by Congress party,the power ,position and role of governor in India looked inert. Sarojini Naidu,the former governor of U.P in an article entitle ‘Governor at work ‘ considered herself as a bird in a golden cage.Party framework provided the institutional basis through which the issues concerning the centre and states were resolved .Moreover ,the superior personality of the Chief Ministers during the period undermined the role of Governor .Important leaders of Congress party like G.B Pant,Rajagopalachari occupied C.M post and the centre relied more on chief minister than governor.
Apart from these there was hardly any political instability or confusion of majority and thus the various discretionary powers remained silent.The will of the state was thus the will of chief minister and his council of minsters was rarely challenged by governor.One of the glaring exception was the dismissal of Kerala government in 1959.
With the witness of first democratic upsurge and emergence of political centres at various states role of governor gained prominence as an agent of centre. As regards appointment of chief minster ,governor has been involved in partisan activities to favour leaders of ruling party in centre than Opposition. Haryana governor G D Tapase asked DeviLal of BJP-Lokdal combine to prove majority, but before he could do so Bhajan Lal was administered oath.The appointment of Jayalalitha by Fathima Beevi,Nitish Kumar by S.S Bandari generated controversies.
Acting as an agent of centre ,Governor has played a diabolic role in the dismissal of state government. The dismissal of Farook Abdullah by Jagmohan in J& K, N.T.R by Ramlal in AndhraPradesh,Tamilnadu Governor K.K Saha’s controversial role in dismissal of DMK government are notable examples. However this has been inflicted with some sort of sanctity through Supreme court judgement in S.R Bommai case.
The seeds of these problems are inherent in his method of appointment.He is nominated by the president.Thus the head of state is neither chosen by the state nor is it responsible his removal.By the very method of appointment governor becomes subordinate to president and events prove that he cannot disobey him.The post 1967 phase shows that role of governor in India is today more an agent of centre than of state.
The governor certainly doesn’t have much to do .This is because constitutional makers intended it that way.He is not supposed to run a parallel government in state.His role is that of a sagacious counselor ,mediator and arbitrator rather than an active politician. An active politician who has identified himself with a political party cannot inspire the total trust of people.The recommendations of sarkaria commission in this context deserve serious consideration
The sarkaria commission recommended that he should be an eminent person in some walk of life. He should be from outside the state and should be detached from local politics of state and must not have involved in politics in recent past.The national commission for review of working of constitution(NCRWC) also suggested a transparent measure for appointment of governor by a committee comprising Prime Minister,Union Home Minister ,Loksabha Speaker and Chief Minster. The controversy surrounding office of Governor can be considerably reduced if the recommendation of sarkaria commission and NCRWC are implemented.