Governors, CMs in Bihar never had cordial relationship

The long history of animosity between governors and chief ministers of Bihar reached a new scale on Monday when Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi called the outgoing Governor Devanand Konwar “the most corrupt governor” and demanded an “impartial inquiry” into his tenure.

While Nitish has not added anything to Modi’s statement that came a day after Konwar was transferred to Tripura, the JD(U) strongman has been critical of the governor.However, this is not an exceptional instance where the state’s governor had been at loggerheads with its chief minister.

One can remember the unforgettable turf war that broke out between the then governor of the state Sunder Singh Bhandari and the Rabri Devi government in 1999. Bhandari, an RSS leader appointed governor by the NDA government, recommended dismissal of the state government twice. Lalu Prasad, who was ruling the state by proxy, called for widespread agitation against the governor. He even organised a 24-hour hawan (ritual) praying for Bhandari’s exit.

Even after Bhandari was transferred to Gujarat before the end of his term, an unsparing Lalu asked why Bhandari, as Gujarat Governor, did not recommend dismissal of Narendra Modi, who allegedly presided over one of the worst riots in the country. Before Lalu, it was Bhagwat Jha Azad, who, as the Chief Minister, had a strained relationship with then governor Govind Narain Singh. The story goes that when Singh started touring the state to review law and order situation, a livid Azad had reportedly “hijacked” the government motorboat that was supposed to ferry Singh across the Ganga.

The animosity can be traced back all the way to the day the country got Independence and the day Bihar got its first constitutional head.

The first Governor of Bihar, Jairamdas Daulatram had issued an executive order in August 1947 suspending an employee of Raj Bhavan in Ranchi . Then irked chief minister S K Sinha took up the matter with Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru questioning the governor’s authority to issue an executive order. Nehru was eventually persuaded to shift Daulatram.

Since then, the relationship between the Raj Bhavan and the government had never been cordial, barring a few exceptions like A R Kidwai, who had a good rapport with the then Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra. More recently, Buta Singh remained in the eye of storm. As Bihar Governor, he had recommended dissolution of the Assembly (which was then in a suspended animation) in May 2005. The move was aimed to prevent Nitish from staking his claim to form a government in a fractured mandate.

Not only Nitish stormed into power in November 2005, Buta had to demit the office unceremoniously after the Supreme Court made an adverse remark in January 2006.

Other governors who could not complete their tenure include Md Shafi Qureshi (26 months), SS Bhandari (11 months), Govind Narain Singh (11 months), Buta Singh (15 months) M Jois (16 months), Jagannath Pahadia (11 months) and Md Saleem (11 months).

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