Debating India

"Governors can act as watchdogs’’

Thursday 16 June 2005

Special Correspondent

Manmohan’s four-point mantra

- Rise above partisan politics

- Play role of elder statesmen in resolving disputes

- Act as watchdogs

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked the Governors on Wednesday to use the autonomy of their office "to do good" in these "turbulent times." He told them that they worked under "public scrutiny" and they must "rise above partisan politics while discharging Constitutional obligations."

Dr. Singh was speaking on the concluding day of the two-day conference of Governors at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and appeared keen to "leave behind some thoughts about the evolving nature of the role and functions of this august office. The Prime Minister gave a four-point mantra on how the Raj Bhavan residents should deal with difficult situations: first, "you are the sole judge of what is right and wrong;" second, it is your judgment as "to what is mandated to you as per the Constitution and what is not;" third, judge "what is in the larger national interest and what is not"; and last, "what do people perceive your actions to be."

Like President Abdul Kalam on Tuesday, Dr. Singh too did not refer to the recent controversial decisions of the Governors of Goa, Jharkhand and Bihar. However, he suggested that the Governors play a proactive role as "the representatives of the Centre in the States" and "to bring a national perspective to State-level actions."

The Governors had a role in ensuring the economic development process. "There is a need to make our growth processes more inclusive; to ensure that the marginalised and weaker sections benefit from economic growth; and to ensure that social infrastructure, particularly in health and education, is improved."

Dr. Singh suggested that "the Governors must guide Chief Ministers and help them deal" with the internal security situation. "They can act as watchdogs and alert the State and Central Governments to any developments or trends which they perceive may have adverse implications in the long run." In particular, "in our country, symbols and gestures matter. Nothing should be done which detracts from the authority of the Indian State and its primary role as an upholder of public order. The Governors have a role in ensuring this."

The Governors also had a responsibility to ensure "communal harmony" and the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes and the Scheduled Castes. On inter-State disputes, Dr. Singh thought "there is a need for [the] Governors to play the role of elder statesmen in ensuring that inter-State issues are handled with sagacity without spilling over as major disputes and often, as law and order problems."

See online : The Hindu

SPIP | template | | Site Map | Follow-up of the site's activity RSS 2.0