There’s some consternation among political commentators, who seem to have discovered the flaws inherent in our bicameral legislature derived from the Westminster system of Great Britain. Despite the hand-wringing of these novice politics enthusiasts like Uday Chopra about Vajubhai Vala being a BJP-RSS man, the truth is that most governors are former politicians, handed plum posts, as a sort of consolation prize at the fag end of their careers. The Governor’s post, promugulated by the Government of India Act 1935, is another British Raj law which hinders more than it helps. The governors of each state, like presidents, are political appointees and few like former President KR Naryanan can be impartial. In fact, Naryanan also created a precedence by dispensing with the idea of calling the single largest party, instead making it mandatory that a Prime Ministerial claimant back up his claims with letters of support from alliance partners. Others, it goes without saying, didn’t show the same sense of propriety.Also read’Is somebody going to be hanged?’: Karnataka case did not deserve pre-dawn hearing, says RohatgiThe most notorious of them was Rajiv Gandhi’s former Home Minister Buta Singh. As Home Minister, Buta Singh was infamous for striking down non-Congress state governments to the point that Rajiv Gandhi had jokingly told him: “Buta Singhji, ab aap apni kirpan andar rakhiye.” (Buta Singhji, now please sheath your kirpan.)As Governor of Bihar, he was severely castigated by the Supreme Court for recommending the dissolution of the Bihar assembly fearing that a pre-poll NDA alliance of JD(U) and BJP which had secured 92 seats was attempting woo LJP (29 MLAs) to cobble together a majority.Also readKarnataka effect: RJD & Congress, largest parties in Bihar and Goa want to form govt citing Yeddyurappa exampleWhen the Assembly Elections held in February 2005 threw up a fractured mandate with no party reaching the magic majority figure. NDA had staked claim of forming the government.The Janata Dal (United) had won 55 seats while the BJP had 37. RJD got 75 while the Congress merely had 10.Also readDMK slams Karnataka Guv, says calling BJP to form government will lead to horse-tradingWhen NDA claimed it had the support of 115 MLAs, Buta Singh wrote to the Centre alleging that legislators of Paswan’s LJP which won 29 seats was being wooed by the NDA. Buta Singh recommended that the Assembly be dissolved, and the Union Cabinet met at midnight to accept the governor’s report. A letter was faxed to President Kalam’s camp in Moscow who approved the recommendation and the Assembly was dissolved.Elections were again held in October-November and the Nitish Kumar-led NDA came back to power, displacing Lalu’s regime.The SC noted that Buta Singh’s action ‘reeked of malafide intent’. Then Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal observed: “All canons of propriety were thrown to the wind …. Undue haste made by the governor smacks of malafide intent.”The SC observed that Governor’s drastic and extreme action under Article 356 can’t be justified and came down hard on the Centre as well. The apex body said that the governor had clearly ‘mislead’ the Council of Ministers.This led Congress leader and advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who fought against the Karnataka governor’s decision in SC, to claim that it was the Union Home Ministry’s job to cross-check Buta Singh’s claims. In fact, such was the force of the SC judgement that even Abdul Kalam considered stepping down as President after the SC overturned his order.The former press secretary of APJ Abdul Kalam, SM Khan, said that Kalam considered resigning after the Supreme Court quashed the presidential proclamation dissolving the Bihar assembly. SM Khan said that Kalam was reluctant to sign the proclamation initially. After then Bihar governor Buta Singh recommended dissolution of the assembly, the Union cabinet approved it and forwarded it to him for approval. When the SC quashed the proclamation, Kalam was apologetic, saying he should have rejected the cabinet’s decision. It was at this time that Kalam thought of resigning, claims SM Khan. After the fiasco, Buta Singh resigned and was replaced by former Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi.As for newly woke political scientists, it’s important to remember that the BJP has a long way to go before it can compete with Congress on grounds of impropriety. As for allegedly misusing the Governor’s post, it’s just a game that BJP has learned from the Congress.
Bihar

Karnataka

Rajiv Gandhi

Moscow

Uday Chopra

Bengal

Janata Dal

Great Britain

bharatiya janata party

Sabharwal

Vajubhai Vala

Gopalkrishna Gandhi

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‘Your actions reek of malafide’: When SC slammed Cong-appointed Bihar Guv Buta Singh in 2005 for impropriety