Besides being at odds with the CM, the Governor has taken up issues that concern the people. He has picked battles with those who may have otherwise remained unchallenged.
Raj Bhawan has picked battles, one after the other, with all those who may have otherwise remained unchallenged.
In doing so, Governor TV Rajeswar has assumed a proactive role, preaching morals and alluding to the distinction between the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
Besides being at odds with Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav time and again, the Governor has taken up issues that directly concern the people. He has visited sites of terrorist attacks and communal riots.
As the Governor continues in this vein, there have been frequent instances of confrontation between Raj Bhawan and the State Government.
There have also been occasions when the Governor has used his good offices to put an effective check on the waywardness of ministers of the Mulayam government and blocked passage of controversial Bills.
In all this, the Governor has won applause from the public. Raj Bhawan’s recent refusal to induct the Rashtriya Lok Dal’s non-legislator nominees into the Mulayam Singh Yadav Ministry and the continuing standoff with the Allahabad High Court over transfer and suspension of the Governor’s additional legal advisor Pradeep Dubey have raised moral and constitutional issues. They have also sparked off a public debate.
Ironically, the Governor remains in the media glare, despite putting an iron curtain around Raj Bhawan.
His Intelligence Bureau background has made Raj Bhawan’s functioning less interactive. So, what brings Raj Bhawan into focus?
A close scrutiny of events indicates that barring an exception, there has been hardly any effort from the Raj Bhawan to come out with an official version or issue clarifications. As a result, it has remained in the eye of the storm.
Take the case of Raj Bhawan’s refusal to schedule the swearing-in ceremony to induct two RLD ministers. The RLD has used the provision of Article 164 (4) of the Constitution to give ministerial berths to party nominees without bothering to get them elected to either of the two Houses of the State Legislature. So, the Governor’s concern is obvious. He simply wrote a letter to the chief minister, asking how the RLD nominees would be elected to the State Legislature when there was no by-election.
Though the CM insisted that his recommendation under Article 164 (1) of the Constitution was enough, the Governor reiterated his point, virtually refusing to administer oath of office to the RLD nominees.
There are no indications that the impasse will end soon. This may probably be because the deadlock over the issue may be indirectly helping the chief minister in taming the RLD chief Ajit Singh. Of late, Singh has stepped up his attacks on the Mulayam Government for what he has called the deteriorating law and order situation amidst reports that the RLD chief is in close touch with the Congress and bargaining for two ministerial berths in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA Ministry. Recent developments may only be an indicator of the twists and turns that the relationship between the two coalition-partners may take in the days to come. Raj Bhawan’s refusal to relieve Governor’s additional legal advisor Pradeep Dubey, despite the Allahabad High Court’s order to transfer and subsequently place him under suspension, has also led to a piquant situation.
While Raj Bhawan insisted the Governor should have the final word in respect to selection and transfer of officers working there, the HC asserted otherwise, saying it had final control over judicial officers.
As the two constitutional bodies refused to budge, the Centre took the issue to the Supreme Court. While asking the HC not to proceed further in the case, the SC had hoped that the issue be amicably resolved by the two constitutional bodies. “The pendency of this matter before the Supreme Court would not prevent the Governor and the Allahabad High Court Chief Justice from resolving the issue to give a quietus to the whole controversy,” was the observation that the apex court had made, while referring the matter to the Chief Justice of India to place before a large bench. As the standoff refuses to end, the HC has now requested the SC to expedite the hearing in the case.
This is not to say that Raj Bhawan’s confrontation with the chief minister has been a one-way affair, or the Governor is not in favour of finding a solution to the deadlock with the court. First, the Mulayam government, too, has not spared Raj Bhawan. The chief minister has criticised the Governor for not administering the oath of ministerial office to RLD nominees.
“By refusing to administer oath of office, the Governor is violating the Constitution,” said the CM, replying to questions from mediapersons, recently. Earlier, Samajwadi Party leaders had called the Governor a ‘dwarpal’ (gateman) who was acting as a Congress agent. The State Government had also unilaterally relieved Principal Secretary to the Governor Luv Verma. The Governor’s advocacy of the police commissioner system invited strong reactions from the chief minister, who did not like the Governor’s assertions of the need to learni English.
The chief minister also objected when the Governor asked senior IAS officers to conduct inquiry into irregularities in many universities. Senior IAS officers, including GB Patnaik who also conducted the inquiry, faced a probe later.
In case of the Raj-Bhawan’s standoff with the HC, the Governor probably wants an honourable exit for his additional legal advisor. Revoking Dubey’s suspension and posting him in Lucknow may satisfy the Governor. This is, however, not so simple. There are wider legal issues involved in the case and the SC will have to find an answer to them.
Significantly, it was because of the active interest shown by the Governor that the vice-chancellors of a number of universities were sacked for the first time on such a large scale. It was also for the first time because of his interest that a legislator convicted in a criminal case had to lose his membership of the Vidhan Sabha.
The Governor also had strong reservations against appointment of Minister for Urban Development Mohamamd Azam Khan as the life Pro-Chancellor of Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar University. This forced the State Government to amend its proposal and set up the Jauhar University only as a private university.
Though the Governor may be taking many positive steps in his own style, his actions have landed him in controversies.
Will he shake off his IB image and become more transparent in the Right to Information age? Only time will have the answer to this crucial question.