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.”

‘Fa­mil­iari­sa­tion ex­er­cise’

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.

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