The Constitution is pretty clear. Article 154 (2) (a) says: “Nothing in this article shall be deemed to transfer to the Governor any functions conferred by any existing law on any other authority.” In other words, the Constitution does not allow the Governor to take upon himself or herself the roles conferred by the people on the elected government of a State.
That clarity has now been entirely muddied. What started as an experiment with Kiran Bedi’s high-decibel antics in the laboratory of the Puducherry government is slowly being fine-tuned into strategy with every tug by the Governor’s office at the Chief Minister’s roles and powers.
While the Centre has traditionally misused this largely ceremonial office to play power games, it is only after 2014 that one sees a single-minded weaponisation of the Governor’s chair. Gradually, a titular role has morphed into a political one, with various éminence grises playing willing handmaiden to the BJP-ruled Centre, dropping even the fig leaf of non-partisanship.
Practically, the Governors indulge in tactics that slow down or destabilise the administration. Legally, their actions try to controvert those of an elected State government. Politically, they give speeches and spawn polemics that enable the BJP to indulge in a continuous election campaign in opposition-ruled States.
There are also some great stories on the Darjeeling tea crisis, the Vizhinjam port controversy, and how artisanal fishermen now work as labourers. A superb essay interprets our caste-coloured Partition stories while another harks back to food memories. Enjoy the issue.