An ‘interaction’ that has left the officialdom worried
IAS officials say the Governor does not have the mandate to bypass an elected government and interfere in administration
Governor Banwarilal Purohit’s meeting with officials of the State government in Coimbatore on Tuesday has raised eyebrows among political parties and senior civil servants alike.
“It is completely unacceptable,” says R. S. Bharati, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)’s Member of Parliament and organising secretary, accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of trying to repeat in Tamil Nadu what it did in other States. He goes on to say that his party has always been against the office of Governor and it is for State autonomy
A. Gopanna, Congress functionary, feels that the present State government has “no guts” to take on the Central government or the Governor. “As far as our constitutional scheme of things is concerned, the Governor, when he or she has any issue to take up with the State government, can get it done through the council of Ministers. It would not be healthy for him to interfere in the functioning of the administration.”
Serving IAS officers privately wondered if Mr. Purohit was trying to do what Kiran Bedi [Lt. Governor of Puducherry] has been doing in the Union Territory.
“When there is an elected government in office, there is no need for him to hold a review meeting. We know how our batch mates are having a horrid time in Puducherry,” a senior civil servant told The Hindu.
Many former officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) recall that at least in the last 30 years, Tamil Nadu has generally seen amiable ties between Governors and Chief Ministers or State governments. When M. Channa Reddy was Governor during 1993-96, it was an open secret that Reddy and the then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, both headstrong personalities, did not share the best of relationships. After the Governor, in late March, granted permission for prosecution of Jayalalithaa for offences under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Assembly, dominated by AIADMK legislators, had gone to the extent of adopting a resolution demanding the recall of the Governor.
A retired officer, who had worked at the Raj Bhavan, says it is all right for any Governor to get reports on law and order from the Chief Secretary or the Director General of Police. But, there is no scope for him to hold review meetings.
However, M.G. Devesahayam, a former IAS officer of the Haryana cadre, views it differently.
“So long as the Governor does not direct officers to take this decision or that decision, there is nothing wrong in him meeting them and seeking to understand what is happening in the State. As for decisions, he has to do it through proper channels.”
It was a familiarisation exercise — this was how a senior official attached to the Governor’s office described Banwarilal Purohit’s two-and-ahalf-hour-long interaction with officials of the Coimbatore district administration on Tuesday.
The official, requesting anonymity, said the event was meant to enable Mr. Purohit to “familiarise himself ” with issues concerning various areas such as education, the public distribution system and urban development.