July 07, 2020
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Don't complain even if this government performs miserably. Pause and take a look at the Opposition. Then thank goodness for small mercies. Months ...

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Don't complain even if this government performs miserably. Pause and take a look at the Opposition. Then thank goodness for small mercies.

Months ago, the BJP launched a nationwide Tiranga movement led by Uma Bharati. It propagated due respect for the national flag. The movement never took off. Sushma Swaraj's nationwide movement to protect Veer Savarkar's reputation overtook it. BJP doyens Vajpayee and Advani looked on approvingly.

Then the Shankaracharya got arrested. BJP leaders said Hinduism was under assault. The BJP's third nationwide movement to save the Shankaracharya was launched.

Alas! That too seems to be overtaken. Last week, the BJP launched its fourth nationwide movement to save democracy in Goa. Nobody, of course, asked Vajpayee and Advani what happened to movements one, two and three. The media's attention span isn't quite as long as the public's memory span.

The BJP is busy hopping like a frog from gimmick to gimmick in search of an issue. But the nation, in fact, abounds with issues that cry for attention. Take Goa itself. BJP leaders want the President to intervene. How can he intervene? By forwarding the BJP leaders' protests to the cabinet? Would that satisfy the BJP?

The fact is, a huge crisis now extends beyond any excesses committed by the Goa governor. And that is the crisis of our Constitution. Its misuse and misinterpretation have distorted it beyond recognition. The BJP-appointed governor's failure to sack Modi in Gujarat was as reprehensible as the Congress-appointed governor's insistence on sacking Parrikar in Goa. Both governors misused office. And the problem of partisan governors will remain until the issue is faced squarely.

There is some serious confusion in our Constitution. The Supreme Court, instead of removing it, has compounded it. As long as the Union cabinet decides the governor's fate, political considerations will dominate the governor's role. Recognising this, the Supreme Court in its ruling of the 1979 Dr Raghulal Tilak case, clearly stated: "The Governor's office is not subordinate or subservient to the Government of India." Unfortunately, the Supreme Court's ruling in the Samsher Singh case (1974), that "the aid and advice" tendered by the prime minister shall be binding on the president, still stands. One ruling tends to make nonsense of the other. Unless and until the President's powers are reappraised, the problem will persist.

Some years ago, the BJP did urge a review of the Constitution. But doubtless some national movement overtook it!


(Puri can be reached at rajinderpuri2000@yahoo.com)

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