By Rajan Narayan

THE Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi is misusing the power of governors and speakers majorly. The governor has become just a token figurehead. The governor has no executive powers. If the Legislative Assembly passes a bill the governor is bound to clear it and only in exceptional circumstances can the governor delay the passing of the bill. If he is not satisfied with the final bill he can send it back to the LA for reconsidering. But he cannot withhold consent to a bill passed by the Legislative Assembly indefinitely even if he wants to.
The present BJP government has been misusing the position of governor. The BJP governors of Opposition-ruled states are making governance miserable for the elected government. For instance, in Tamil Nadu, Governor RN Ravi has withheld consent for as many as ten bills passed by the Legislative Assembly. In West Bengal also there is a huge confrontation between Governor CV Ananda Bose and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The governor has been acting as an agent of the BJP government and not as an independent authority upheld by the Constitution of India. Indeed, the Supreme Court has scolded several BJP governors. The SC has directed the governors to give their consent to bills passed by the Legislative Assembly. The delay in passing bills paralyses the functioning of the elected government. There is no problem where the BJP is ruling the State as well as the Centre. But there is an enormous issue when the state has an elected Opposition government and the governor as usual is part of the ruling party at the Centre.

NOT just the office of the governor but even the highest office in the country, that of the president of India has been marginalized by the Modi government. A relative non-entity was appointed in Droupadi Murmu. She is rubber stamping and does not protest against any acts of omission and commission by the Modi government. President Droupadi Murmu did not object when she was not invited to the inauguration of the new parliamentary or Sansad Bhavan complex in Delhi (although the entire Opposition objected at such an insult to the president of India).
Historically, it is president who should have inaugurated the new Sansad Bhavan and not Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But in this case, Narendra Modi took all the credit and did not even invite the president for the event. President Droupadi Murmu of course did not utter any protest because she is a useful and pliant tool in the hands of the Narendra Modi government.
The institution of the president is very highly regarded as the president is the chief executive of the government of the country. The president is the head of the defense forces. It is the president who takes the salute on Republic day. This office has been occupied by very distinguished personalities from educationist Sarvepalli Radhakrishna to the much self-respected and loved Abdul Kalam, who pioneered rocket science in India.
The office of the speaker of the legislative assembly has also been misused by the Narendra Modi government. A prime example is the Legislative Assembly of Goa. The disqualification petition against the eight Congress MLAs who defected to the BJP has yet to be heard by speaker Ramesh Tawadkar. It is been pending for more than a year. After the SC directed the speaker to hear the petition within the next 15 days the speaker acted. Apparently, the strategy is to delay the decision and keep it pending at least till the parliamentary election.

IN several of the Opposition-ruled states now the speaker is a BJP nominee. The speaker is the symbol of the democratic functioning of the state in the country. The speaker is expected to be objective and not biased towards the ruling party. The speaker is respected by all the political parties in the state whether it is the BJP or Congress ruled or in the case of Tamil Nadu by a regional party.
The dharma of the speaker and the governor is to be independent authorities but this has not been respected by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. The speaker also now acts as an agent of the ruling government. It is clear that the BJP government is undermining all democratic institutions right from the topmost position of the country which is the president’s post in independent India.
The State governments ruled by the Opposition parties cannot function if the governor is hostile to them. Both the Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee and the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin have strongly protested to President Droupadi Murmu over such a Pakistani approach of the current government. Since the president herself dances to the tune of the BJP, the Opposition government gets no protection from the use and abuse of power by governors and speakers.
The latest attempt of silencing dissent is now extended to the Lok Sabha itself. MLA Mahua Moitra, who is a senior leader of the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, was effectively silenced, very recently. This eloquent MLA has been a most vocal critic of the BJP government in exposing the ruling dispensation in parliament. Her research and homework is meticulous before she articulates her concerns. So the BJP got an opportunity to fix Mahua Moitra by accusing her of accepting cash and gifts to ask questions in parliament. Without any proof of course. Allegedly, she kept questioning the role of the Adani Group of companies and Gautam Adani’s links with the favors granted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mahua damaged her position by admitting that she had accepted gifts. However, she did not claim that she had taken money to ask questions. It was of no use because the BJP has got a good majority in mainstream parliament. It is the Parliamentary Ethics Committee which called for her disqualification from being in parliament. Through voice votes the BJP used its power to end the tenure of Mahua Moitra as a member of parliament. It is a hopeless situation because the SC is unlikely to entertain any petition for justice to be done to her.
So if you are an MLA from an Opposition-ruled state you have to manage and cope with abusive contradictions to stay alive. It may be recalled that Lt Governor Vinay Kumar Saxena of New Delhi has also been allegedly abusing his authority to make it difficult for Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to function normally in the interests of the people of Delhi. But he seems to have somewhat learned the skills to manage the diabolical spokes of BJP affairs in New Delhi.
All these afore mentioned examples are ill omens for a democratic future. It is not a happy situation if a government constantly seeks to dilute democracy in search if authoritarian one-party rule. All democratic norms are being killed.

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