“Is the Bihar Governor a puppet? BPSC examinees were asked the other day. And all hell broke loose! The impudent question is nothing short of blasphemy, maintained psuedo-intellectuals. The poor guy, who set the paper, was promptly made a scapegoat. He was served a show-cause. And even before receiving his response, the luckless gentleman was blacklisted. The BPSC duly placed a notice in Patna newspapers expressing regret over the question. In its over zeal to please the His Excellency, the BPSC has gone overboard. The BPSC forgets that though the Governor holds a constitutional post, he is NOT above the Constitution. He is not beyond scrutiny. I think that the BPSC Chairman and Members need a crash course in the Indian Constitution. I have studied political science as a student.
As an IPS officer, I have served in the Patna Raj Bhawan as an ADC to three Bihar Governors. ADC (Aide de Camp) is the Governor ‘s shadow. As a political scientist and as a former ADC, I can tell a thing or two about Governors. First of all, the post is a British Raj relic. The provinces in the British Raj were ruled by Governors or Laat Sahibs. They reported to the Governor-General. The independent India was designed as a federal entity with division of powers between the Centre and State. The Governor was in the state as eyes and ears of the Union Government. And at the dawn of freedom, stalwarts were sent to the Raj Bhawans. Giants of the freedom struggle. A scholar like Dr Zakir Hussain was dispatched to the Patna Raj Bhawan. He later rose to become the President of the Republic. Zakir Hussain ‘s love for roses was legendary. He laid a rose garden in the Patna Raj Bhawan. Hussain is gone but the fragrance of exotic roses remains. Then Sarojini Naidu, the Bharat Kokila, was made the UP Governor. After some decades the degeneration began. Raj Bhawans were filled up with tainted politicians. Ram Krishna Hegde called Raj Bhawans, dust bins of the ruling party. And how true he was. Those ruling party leaders who could not make to the Union Cabinet were adjusted in Raj Bhawans.
Raj Bhawans became Old Age Homes of sorts. Or “vriddhashrams” as they call in Hindi. I served with a Bihar Governor who was so frail that he couldn’t climb stairs. And he was not comfortable in lifts. So he graced only those functions which were held at ground floors. It was my duty to tell amused hosts to change floors for His Excellency! Nowadays, Governors shamelessly function as ruling party agents.
Take the case of Vajubhai Vala, the Karnataka Governor who hurriedly sworn-in Yeduyurappa as the CM at the behest of his puppet-masters sitting in New Delhi. Not only this, he gave the BJP leader full 15 days to prove his majority. Or 15 days to buy MLAs. The horse-trading (or donkey-training) began. Mercifully, the Supreme Court of India intervened. The apex court slashed the period to some hours. Yedyyurappa resigned and the Governor had eggs on his face. Any self-respecting Governor would have resigned. But Indian politicians are “sharm-nirpeksha” ( shameless).
Vajubhai Vala used Fevicol and sat glued to his chair. Examples abound. In Delhi, Najeeb Jung, a Lt Governor (or Chhota Governor) made life miserable for Kejriwal allegedly at the behest of the Modi-Shah duo. If the grapevine has to be believed, Jung was promised the Vice Presidentship of India if he pleased his puppet masters. Kiran Bedi, another Chhota Governor, is doing the same in Puducherry. But the worst example is Tathagat Roy, the Tripura Governor. His communal tweets will put Nathuram Godse to shame.
And Satyapal Malik, the Governor of J&K. He refused to entertain a politician’s claim to form a popular Government saying that the Raj Bhawan fax machine was out of order. What a joke. The Raj Bhawan fax machine makes a mockery of the popular mandate.
I can write on and on. But these examples demonstrate beyond doubt that Governors are nothing more than puppets. Days of Zakir Hussain and Sarojini Naidu are over. Tathagat Roy and Kiran Bedi are occupants of Raj Bhawans and Raj Niwases. The BPSC’s efforts to sweep the truth under a carpet are pathetic. Healthy discussions are essence of democracy. And India is not North Korea!
(Mr. Amitabh Kumar Das is a 1994 batch IPS Officer. His views are personal.)