Last week, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee blocked Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Twitter. She said she was “forced” to do so because of his “unethical and unconstitutional” statements and accused him of treating government officials like “his servants”.
- Although envisaged as an apolitical head who must act on the advice of the council of ministers, the Governor enjoys certain powers granted under the Constitution, such as
- giving or withholding assent to a Bill passed by the state legislature, or
- determining the time needed for a party to prove its majority, or
- which party must be called first do so, generally after a hung verdict in an election.
- There are, however, no provisions laid down for the manner in which the Governor and the state must engage publicly when there is a difference of opinion.
- The management of differences has traditionally been guided by respect for each other’s boundaries.
- The Constituent Assembly envisaged governor to be apolitical. But politicians become Governors and then resign to fight elections.
- The CM is answerable to the people. But the Governor is answerable to no one except the Centre.
- There is no provision for impeaching the Governor, who is appointed by the President on the Centre’s advice. While the Governor has 5-year a tenure, he can remain in office only until the pleasure of the President.
- In the Constitution, there are no guidelines for exercise of the Governor’s powers, including for appointing a CM or dissolving the Assembly. There is no limit set for how long a Governor can withhold assent to a Bill.
- From the Administrative Reforms Commission of 1968 to Sarkaria Commission of 1988, several panels have recommended reforms, such as selection of the Governor through a panel comprising the PM, Home Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker and the CM, apart from fixing his tenure for five years.
- Recommendations have also been made for a provision to impeach the Governor by the Assembly.
- No government has implemented any of these recommendations.