Rajasthan crisis: Should Governor Office Be Abolished?

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Rajasthan crisis

As the situation gets boggy in Rajasthan, it has led to the prominence of a forest of opinions regarding democracy and dissent, including as I may put it so, a cliche argument of abolishing office of governor for it being a rubber-stamp office working under the clutches of central government to subjugate sovereignty of states. The manner in which the governor of states recently have expressed their predilection towards the union, is not even unscrupulous but despotic, the question however as to whether that justifies the argument of complete abolishment of the office holds any strength should be addressed through retrospection of the birth of Indian constitution and why did our founding fathers created such an office which has been impugned with persistent demand to call upon it’s death ever since it came into existence. Indian federation, being a quasi-federal in nature is based upon top down model of federation rather than the American bottom up model. The power originally vested within the union and it sharded upon to the states.

At its birth as a nation, India was struck by a far-fetched and gargantuan challenge to amalgamate more than 500 princely states with diversity perhaps never found elsewhere into a solitary and sovereign union. The secessionist tendencies found expression in many states and even today many states exhibit. Founding fathers were left with this humongous task to ensure the holding together of these states into a union. Only way perhaps to ensure that was to provide enormous strength to the union enabling it to negate any secession or separatist movement in any of the state. We therefore have much powerful union that has in certain cases overriding powers over states, it is only to ensure harmony and peaceful coexistence of the states within a union. The need of disproportionate strength to the union can be easily understood if we retrospect our own history of Mughal empire. With the expansion of Mughal empire, the Mughal emperors residing in north India had realized it was implausible to manage daily administrative affairs in the regions like Carnatic in south and Bengal in the east. In order to address it, representatives from the court of Mughal emperor were sent in various regions to administer, in fact the term “Nawab” doesn’t mean a ruler as it is considered so, it implies to governor of a state who administers on behalf of Mughal empire, till the beginning of 18th century, until the death of Aurangzeb the Mughal empire remained a very powerful and efficient regime and this system of nawabs and their administration served it’s purpose. After the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal empire weakened and its authority declined drastically. As a result, many of those nawabs who were sent to administer on emperors behest ceded away from Mughal empire and became independent states. Murshid quli khan of Bengal, nizam of Hyderabad are few of such examples. Without providing considerable strength to the union, we perhaps wont be witnessing a peaceful and harmonious coexistence of a nation with all the states as diverse as continents.

In order to exercise it’s superlative powers in all parts of India, there needs to be a channel which mediates all the instructions from the union government to state governments in order to control and ensure their harmonious coexistence with union. The office of governor happens to be one such medium of control for the union. It’s incorrigible and incoherent to draw a parallel between governors of present India with the governors during British rule. Although the underlying principle being the same, but the former represent a democratically elected government which is collectively responsible to the house directly elected by the people while the latter represented a colonial government established miles apart from India.

Another crucial role that this office has within it’s power lies during a hung assembly. With the social welfare state and all those directives being the ultimate goal and aspiration for any government to achieve, the fundamental responsibility upon a government is to provide the people a stable governance, a fractured mandate dislodges the steering wheel of governance and tramples its wheels. It lies upon the governor the sole responsibility to ensure a stable government. Although originally as it was deemed so, the discretionary power of governor in such case is grossly diluted by various Supreme court judgments and in such a case he cannot just follow the principle of service to the union but has a very significant role to play. But as it’s said, power is intoxicating. The union government quite frequently is abusing that power dynamics and governor is the first pawn in their quest. Having said that, there seems to be much space for reforms and strict regulations for the office of governor. Various recommendations have already been made on the said issue by various commissions including the removal of doctrine of pleasure, but in my opinion to call for removal of the office of governor is irascible for all the aforementioned reasons which are still relevant in India today.

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