Formation of government: Governor’s powers should be codified

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Governors are supposed to be the representatives of the central government and at the state levels all administrative decisions taken by the Chief Ministers are Okayed by them. They report about the functioning of the state particularly law and order situation to the centre. Chief Minister, ministers and judges of the High Court are sworn before Governors. Crucial functions are when they report to the central government about imposition of President’s Rule if the state government fails to run the administration according to the rule of law. The other important function is to invite the largest party or largest coalition to form the government after the assembly elections. As the Governors are appointed by the central government that is the Prime Minister, they usually and mainly serve the ruling party at the centre and more often than not opposition is at loggerheads with the Governors. On the occasion of the formation of state governments also the ruling party uses them as their agents. Therefore their existence is damaging the cause of democracy rather than upholding its principles. Hence, the demand for removing the office of governor to save democratic values is apparent. This demand has positive and minus consequences and they cannot be abolished until and unless some alternative system is in place.

The misuse of constitutional powers by Governors came into focus when in the wake of Karnataka assembly polls, the state Governor VajubhaiVala invited the BJP which had 104 seats, 8 less than the required majority, to form the government and gave 15 days to the would-be CM, Yeddyurappa to prove majority on the floor of the House. The Governor chose the BJP preferring it to the JD(S) and the Congress alliance which had clear majority. The Governor gave a free hand to the BJP, the ruling party at the centre, 15 days to prove the majority in the House. It was an invitation for horse-trading and poaching MLAs from the rival parties. Thank God, the Congress sprung into action and the Supreme Court responded to the call of duty at midnight. The court ordered a floor test the very next day and the BJP failed in its favourite game of engineering defection and Yedddyurappa resigned before facing the vote of confidence. Thus the JD(S) and the Congress formed the government naturally causing acute mental anguish to the BJP chief Amit Shah and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, because it may prove a jolt to the BJP design for the 2019 elections.

The case is still pending in the Supreme Court to judge whether the Governor’s invite to the BJP to form the government was constitutionally correct or not. At this juncture, the Supreme Court may lay down certain norms and guidelines for Governors to observe while inviting the largest party or the group of parties to form the government. At the moment, the Apex court’s observations are available to invite the largest party and also to the largest alliance. The norms should be explained for the guidance of the Governors who, at present, choose the opportunity to please the centre by ignoring ground realities and constitutional norms.

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