Political contours behind slugfest between Governors and Opposition ruled states

The Saffron party has asserted that the Governor was only trying to ensure that educational institutions must not have any kind of political slant
Last Updated 26 April 2022, 13:30 IST

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin's scathing attack on Governor RN Ravi over the anti-NEET Bill has led to questions on whether the government and Raj Bhavan locking horns would pave the way for a showdown between the central and the state governments.

In a strong message, Stalin, also president of the ruling DMK had said on Monday the government was not asking for Ravi's approval for the anti-NEET Bill but to send it for Presidential assent like a 'postman.'

Political commentator M Bharat Kumar said a scrutiny of political scenario in non-BJP ruled states of Telangana, Kerala, West Bengal and the now emerging 'outline' in Tamil Nadu pointed to sharpening the political fight, also couched in 'grand claims' of parties on ideology, eyeing the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

"Tamil Nadu or elsewhere, the showdown can only be political. The ties between the Centre and states may not be hit. The point is, you have to continue to fight vigorously and their ultimate goal is to dislodge the BJP from power in 2024 Lok Sabha polls", he told PTI.

It is all about the Saffron party making determined efforts to expand its political footprint in such states while the incumbent regional players are becoming aggressive to further strengthen their foothold and not allow any electoral space for the BJP. This is the 'plot', and hence "the ruling dispensations in such states have a dire political need to project the Governor and by implication the Centre as against the interests of their respective states and any issue that could strike a chord with people is welcome", he said.

Also, to be 'politically correct', such opposition parties are constrained to directly target the Union government and the paddy procurement row in Telangana would illustrate it, he told PTI.

"This is imperative for them to both sustain and further build on their strengths to ensure a spirited fight against the BJP in 2024 Lok Sabha polls," he said. "At the same time, to gain ground in such states the BJP has a real need to confront them politically and the Saffron-party led Central government's stand on key issues are crucial in this aspect."

As regards Tamil Nadu, the anti-NEET Bill and the 2 Bills to enable the government to appoint vice-chancellors to 13 state-run universities, "are politically right moves and compatible with DMK's ideological position of upholding state's rights," he said.

Whatever may be the outcome vis-a-vis such Bills involving the Raj Bhavan, the DMK would position itself as either the winner or defender of state's rights, he said.

The BJP has come up with a counter-narrative and its state president K Annamalai has said that in view of Governor's initiatives during the past few years, varsities riddled with corruption were being 'sanctified.' Both education and students would be severely affected whenever politics mixes with education, the party has said.

The Saffron party has asserted that the Governor was only trying to ensure that educational institutions must not have any kind of political slant. The BJP leader has also said that politicians who support measures to 'continue corruption' by imposing 'narrow minded politics with an ulterior motive' using claims like state's rights would be considered as betraying the future generations.

"Let us see how the Tamil Nadu BJP takes forward this narrative and the people's response," the commentator said. In both Telangana and West Bengal, the BJP is very aspirational and aggressive to cement its current strength and further grow.

"Hence the TRS and Trinamool Congress have to target the Raj Bhavan in one way or the other and either explicitly or implicitly."

"While the Central government is the real target, the Raj Bhavan is a punch-bag to target your archrival, which is expected to fetch regional political dividends." Referring to Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan's open criticism of the TRS government several times and her media interviews, Kumar said "whatever the Governor does is expected to favour the BJP." "Fracas between the Raj Bhavan and government is nothing new. You may recall several episodes like those involving the J Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK government and Governor Chenna Reddy and Governor HR Bharadwaj versus the BJP government in Karnataka."

Incidentally, non-BJP ruled states--Kerala, Maharashtra and West Bengal have also witnessed spats between the respective Governors and Chief Ministers, often hogging national headlines.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan had last year announced that he ceased to be the Chancellor of varsities in the state over alleged political interference, with the flashpoint emerging in the re-appointment of a vice-chancellor and the issue went to the court.

In West Bengal, Governor Jagdeep Dhankar has had many run-ins with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee while strained relations between Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray and Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has been no secret.

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(Published 26 April 2022, 13:30 IST)

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