Criteria for Governor appointment should be merit not loyalty

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Sheila Dikshit
The unceremonious replacement of Governors has snowballed into a major controversy after some of the UPA appointed Governors, including Kamla Beniwal rejected to toe the Government line. On Sunday, Beniwal was transferred to Mizoram after her refusal to quit the post but the decision is bound to create flutter in political circle. As a Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had frosty relations with Beniwal on some of issues and one among them was appointment of Lokayukta. Earlier some of UPA appointee like BL Sharma (UP), MK Narayanan (WB), Ashwani Kumar (Nagaland) Shekhar Dutt(Chattisgarh) and BV Wanchoo (Goa) put their paper after getting signal of their removal, though not asked to quit formally.

Goa tenure was a learning experience for me: Wanchoo

Some one like Sheila Dikshit (Kerela) and Shivraj K Patil (Punjab) have still not obliged new dispensation. It is being said that new Government is vacating these positions for those senior leaders, who could not be adjusted earlier and are devoid of any Ministerial positions. The new list of Governors include Uttar Pradesh's former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh and senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi.

UPA rewarded Governors for loyalty

According to a report, Hindu hardliner Kalyan Singh is likely to get command of West Bengal. Experts believe that it is an attempt by BJP to control unruly Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee.

Both the Government and Opposition are flexing their muscles on the issue, leaving no stone unturned in proving others wrong. Crying foul, the Congress is terming this a vendetta politics while incumbent Government says its tradition and citing year 2004 and 2009 examples when the UPA removed a number of BJP appointed Governors. Whole issue raising some pertinent questions.

Who should be appointed as Governor? Then why the post is mere ceremonial and if it is so then why can't we do away with? Why merit is not being taken into account while appointment? Should the Governor role be limited to just being an agent of Centre who has to dance to their tune at any cost. To get answers of these questions we should peep into the past incidences.

Unethical practices continues since long

This process was started first by Janata Party in1977, when it came to power after routing Congress. They sent a list of Governors who were appointed by the Congress to President. But in a big embarrassment to Janata Party, the lists were sent back to the Government, though it was accepted later by President BD Jatti . Similarly, the BJP had cried foul after their appointees Vishnu Kant Shastri, Kailashpati Mishra, Babu Parmanand and Kidar Nath Sahani were removed in 2004. Party stalwart LK Advani had term the move a "dangerous" and a "violation of Constitutional principles". BJP had even challenged that decision in court.

"The Governor cannot be removed on the ground that he is out of sync with the policies and ideologies of the Union Government or the party in power at the Centre. Nor can he be removed on the ground that the Union Government has lost confidence in him", Court in its 2010 ruling said.

But in the same judgement, the Court had said they can be chucked out in the case of misconduct or any other irregularity.

"If a party which comes to power with a particular social and economic agenda finds that a Governor is out of sync with its policies, then it should be able to remove such a Governor", Attorney General GE Vahanvati said, who was representing UPA then.

It seems Modi Government is citing this exceptional clause but then proper procedure could have been adopted in whole process. The President should be informed in written on what ground these Governors are asked to quit.

No merit of UPA Governors

Now, some soul searching exercises for UPA also who is making so much hue and cries. Let's flip through the profile of these UPA appointed Governors and weigh the merits of them.

Sheila Dikshit for an example was the Chief Minister of Delhi before taking over the post of Governor of Kerela. Congress's rout in recent elections proves what people really think of her. Delhi earned the ‘rape capital' tag under her and the way she and her coterie plundered money in the Commonwealth Games scam (thus slandered image of the country) really does not qualify her for holding a Constitutional post. She doesn't deserve to hold high Constitutional office.

Now consider the second case: BL Joshi, Governor of Uttar Pradesh. At a time when law & order has failed completely in Akhilesh-ruled UP, women are being raped daily and not a single word has been uttered by respected Governor saab. Why?

According to Outlook data, during Akhilesh rule, a total of 23,569 incidents of crimes against women took place. A total of 1,951 rape cases are reported with around 10 rapes happening every day. Total 5,676 riots incident took place and that seriously raises questions about his administrative skills. So, all this happened right under the nose of Governor Joshi. If this doesn't say he deserves the removal, what does?

Shivraj Patil, who hardly had any other work except changing his suites and that also on the very night when ghastly bomb blast took place in Delhi. He was then Union Minister for Home. UPA had to remove him after massive uproar over the issue. After removal he was rehabilitated as Governor of Punjab. This proves that they all got reward for their loyalty to Gandhi family even if they flung on merit test.

Governors' post is like rehabilitation package for politicos who are rewarded for their services. Why this highly esteemed post not is given to some eminent personalities who have no political lineage at all. Even if someone is appointed from political circle, make sure he has not been active since ten years.

The honourable President of India appoints the Governors with the advice of the Council of Ministers. Governors can only be removed by President on the advice of the Prime Minister on the ground of violation of the Constitution like some serious corruption charges and all.

But over the years, Government uses its discretionary power and removes them without citing proper reason. Although every Government has been involved in these unethical practices, the Modi Government could avoid this unnecessary controversy and thus set high standard of good governance.

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