"Governors should refuse to step down"

Last Updated 21 June 2014, 18:07 IST

Former Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari says governors who are being nudged by the government to resign should refuse to step down to protect the Constitution.

In an interview to Prakash Kumar of Deccan Herald, the Congress leader describes the NDA government’s move as “undemocratic” and "unconstitutional.” Excerpts:

The NDA government is making a desperate effort to replace the governors appointed during the UPA regime. How do you look at it?

It’s a complete turnaround from the position which they held till May 26, 2014. The BJP had made a huge hue and cry in 2004 when the UPA government, perhaps for the legitimate reasons, chose to replace four governors.

The then leader of Opposition LK Advani had termed it as a weakening of the federal structure of the country. Subsequently, BJP MP BP Singhal filed a PIL in the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the then UPA government.

The government’s move is not only undemocratic but it flies in the face of everything that the BJP claims and it stood for in the past 10 years. We want to ask the BJP: don’t they consider their actions now an attempt to not only weaken the federal structure but also weaken institutions?

But, Congress too did the same thing in past when it was it power. Why is the party now opposing it?

For simple reason, as I earlier pointed out, that the UPA government in its first avatar did, perhaps for legitimate reasons, replace four governors but then same people who are now asking governors to resign had made song and dance out of it.

The difference between then and now is that there is a Constitution bench judgement of Supreme Court which stands in the way.

The apex court has held in 2010 that the Centre does not have the authority to change governors depending upon its whims and fancies or just because it does not like the political affiliations of a particular individual. So, it is not a question of you did it and why are you opposing it now.

The fact is that there has been a qualitative change in the situation now with the Supreme Court judgement. Under article 141 of the Constitution, all authorities are bound by the apex court’s verdict. The apex court’s verdict must be must be followed in its letter and spirit.

Is that all?

There is a moral dimension to it also. All the governors were correctly appointed after following due process by a warrant executed under the hand and seal of the President of India. The Constitution prescribes the conditions under which a governor can be removed prior to the completion of his term.

None of these conditions are getting fulfilled in case of any of the governor appointed during the UPA regime. Some of them are not even career politicians; they are career bureaucrats. Some of them have spent their life in security agencies.

It is not that someone was a Congressman, so he is being removed. It is just that someone was appointed by the UPA, therefore he has to go.

Will NDA succeed in its plan? How Congress is going to fight it politically?
After all, there is a difference between resignation and removal. At this point in time, governors are being nudged to resign, according to what Maharashtra governor K Sankaranarayanan has said.

In any case, removal of any governor is not possible till the time one of the conditions prescribed for in the Constitution is satisfied. I think, it would be appropriate, if the governors in their wisdom do decide that they need to protect the Constitution. They should follow the Constitution in its letter and spirit.

In the absence of any concrete reason, they should just refuse to step down. Congress party has commenced the process of exposing the true colours of the BJP-led NDA government.

(Published 21 June 2014, 18:07 IST)

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