Relations between the ruling DMK led by M K Stalin and Tamil Nadu Governor suffered a new low with DMK leaders repeatedly raising the issue of non-cooperation on the part of the Governor, and his delay in providing assent or taking action on the Bills sent to him by the state government for assent.
Senior DMK leader and parliamentary party leader, TR Baalu, had served notice in Parliament, seeking a calling-attention motion on the attitude of the Governor in Tamil Nadu, and led a walk-out of his party members when the motion was not taken up by the Chair.
DMK members had also demanded the resignation of the Governor for his inaction despite several reminders from the MK Stalin government. The State chief minister has been demanding that the Governor provide assent to the State Bills including the anti-NEET Bill. State Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan had charged in the State Assembly that the Governor was sitting on 19 proposals from the State government. These include the measure to call for fresh elections to the State co-operatives as the Bill proposed reduction of the term of elected office-bearers to a maximum of three years and rule of Special Officers till the next elections.
DMK MP, P Wilson has moved a private member’s Bill in Parliament, seeking to fix a time-frame for Governors to act on proposals and Bills from the State Government.
Another DMK MP, P Wilson, has moved a private member’s Bill in Parliament, seeking to fix a time-frame for Governors to act on proposals and Bills from the State Government. This follows the assertion of BJP spokespersons that the Governor was a Constitutional authority, and none could force him to act immediately. “There is no rule book or law book for the Governor to decide in a stipulated amount of time. He will do it accordingly as per the law,” states BJP spokesperson Tirupathi Narayanan.
“The Bill seeks to prevent governors from impeding functioning of democratically elected governments by fixing a timeframe for the governor to act after the Bill has been passed by the state legislature and sent for assent,” Wilson said, while introducing the Bill, seeking amendments to the discretionary powers of the governors. In the statement of objects and reasons, the member contended that the governor was established as the de jure head of the state and all executive acts were done in his name. However, the governor was bound by the aid and advice of the elected state government under Article 163 of the Constitution.
The private Bill said there were several recent instances of governors holding Bills for an inordinate amount of time. Even when ex-facie the Bill had to be reserved for the consideration of the President, the governors had taken a long time. “This defeats the will of the people since the state legislature represents the mandate of the people. All Bills passed by the state legislature are for the welfare of the people of the state. The state government’s functioning cannot indirectly be curtailed and rendered inutile by the actions of the governor, a Union government appointee. That infringes the balance of power between the Union and States established by the Constitution” the Bill read.
The confrontation between the Governor and the State Government has peaked with CM Stalin urging PM Narendra Modi, during his recent interaction in New Delhi, to change the Governor due to his obstructionist tactics. The only instance where the BJP top leadership changed a Governor at the instance of the State government was in neighbouring Puducherry where LG Kiran Bedi had become so unpopular that the people were ready to reject the BJP and its allies in the Puducherry polls. However, in view of elections being round the corner, the BJP top brass hurriedly moved out Kiran Bedi. This enabled the BJP and its ally, the AINRC, to overcome the Congress in the Assembly elections. There is no such political compulsion for the BJP to act against the present TN Governor now. After all, he is only carrying out the orders of the BJP-led Union Government, and both the PMO and the Home Ministry are expected to stand by their nominee as Governor.
The only instance where the BJP top leadership changed a Governor at the instance of the State government was in neighbouring Puducherry where LG Kiran Bedi had become so unpopular that the people were ready to reject the BJP and its allies in the Puducherry polls.
Meanwhile, the DMK seeks political capital from the controversy, renewing the demand raised by party leader and former chief minister, late CN Annadurai, that just as a goat needed no beard, so too the nation doesn’t need a Governor. The policy of Modi and senior BJP leaders has been to unseat non-BJP governments using institutions like the Raj Bhavan. The scenario in Tamil Nadu is much the same as the treatment meted out to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal of AAP, Mamta Banerjee of the TMC, Uddhav Thackeray of the Shiv Sena, and Pinarayi Vijayan of the CPM. Therefore, there is little likelihood of a change in this pattern of political games and destabilisation of elected governments through Governors.
Ultimately, in this battle of perception, Kejriwal and Mamta have succeeded in convincing the electorate of a political conspiracy through the Raj Bhavans and managed to return to power. Stalin will no doubt stick to the same route and try and ensure that the BJP’s game-plan will come unstuck in TN as in West Bengal and Delhi.