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Removal of Governors a right decision: Patil

Javed M. Ansari

Tuesday 13 July 2004, by ANSARI*Javed M.

NEW DELHI. JULY 12. The United Progressive Alliance Government today defended its decision to remove the Governors in four States, saying it was "constitutionally right and legally correct."

Replying to a short duration discussion in the Lok Sabha on the subject, the Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, said the Government had "scrupulously followed both the law and the procedure," while dismissing the Governors in Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat and Haryana.

Earlier, initiating the discussion on the removal of the Governors, the Leader of the Opposition, L.K. Advani, called upon the Manmohan Singh Government to reconsider the dismissals, which he called an "outrageous assault on the multi-party democracy."

In his reply, Mr. Patil denied that the Government’s actions were "politically motivated" and that it had not consulted the State Governments while appointing the new Governors. The four Governors who were removed, he said, were taking orders from a political party and had "loudly proclaimed their affiliation to the RSS." "If some Governors are not prepared to follow the ideals of secularism and socialism as enshrined in the Constitution and choose to take their orders from the political parties or organisations that they belong to rather than from the Government, what are we expected to do," he asked.

Citing the example of Gujarat, he said the Government did not want to face a situation "where the Governor, shackled by his ideological considerations, was not prepared to give a factual report of what was happening on the ground." The UPA had won a mandate to provide a secular government and to take everybody together. "However, if some Governors do not want to cooperate with us on the subject, how can we then fulfil the mandate," Mr. Patil asked.

Dwelling on the constitutional validity of the Government’s decision, Mr. Patil said that Article 156 of the Constitution stipulated that the Governor should hold office at the pleasure of the President. In 1998, the Vajpayee Government had removed the Governors of Gujarat, Mizoram, Uttar Pradesh and Goa soon after coming to power. The Janata Party Government, of which Mr. Advani was a member, had sacked several State Governments. "The National Front Government supported by you [BJP] had sacked all the State Governors appointed by the previous Government," Mr. Patil said.

Responding to Mr. Advani’s charge that the Government’s decision to remove the Governors had struck a blow to federalism, he assured the House that the Government was committed to upholding the federal character of the Constitution. The Governor was only a nominated person whereas the BJP had tried to remove the elected Government of Bihar by invoking Article 356. "It is more dangerous to remove elected governments than to remove nominated Governors," he added.

He refused to say what the Government was contemplating with regard to Arunachal Pradesh. The Government was not in a position to give any assurance. "We have contradictory reports. We will carefully consider the whole situation before taking any action," he said.

See online : The Hindu

P.S.

in "The Hindu", July 13, 2004.

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