Thursday, Dec 07, 2023

In Jharkhand, Governor's Powers And Actions Continue To Raise Eyebrows

In Jharkhand, Governor's Powers And Actions Continue To Raise Eyebrows

The conflicting situation between the ruling and opposition parties is not a new phenomenon in Jharkhand. This has also been the situation during the tenure of the erstwhile Governor Droupadi Murmu (current President of India) and Ramesh Bais (current Governor of Maharashtra).

Jharkhand Governor CP Radhakrishnan
Jharkhand Governor CP Radhakrishnan being welcomed by Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren (Representative image) Photo: PTI

'Illegal mining is taking place at Santhal Pargana, we won’t let the goons take over': Governor

'Raj Bhavan is acting on the directions of the Governor': Speaker

'The comment of the speaker is condemnable': Babu Lal Marani (BJP leader)

'There should be strict action against the speaker for speaking against Raj Bhawan': BJP

'If the Governor starts doing the work of BJP leaders and ministers, what are they expected to do': JMM

'Instead of giving advice to the CM, Governor is busy advertising the policies of the Central Government': JMM

'The Governor is doing politics': Irfan Ansari (Congress leader)

In June, several of these shrewd statements made national headlines across Jharkhand and other parts of the country. The bitter exchange between the ruling and Opposition parties has brought the Governor to the centre of discussion, which also hit the headlines last year.

Governor CP Radhakrishnan was on a recent tour to Santhal Pargana when he visited Pakur and made a certain statement that was deemed ‘dadagiri’ (bullying behaviour). Santhal Pargana is considered a stronghold of the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and Ravindra Mahato, speaker of jharkhand Vidhan Sabha, is an important leader from here. All the seats reservedfor the ST community in Santhal Pargana have been held by JMM. In the last two weeks, Governor Radhakrishnan visited several villages of Santhal Pargana and according to a source at Raj Bhawan, he interacted with the villagers to understand the several problems they face in their day-to-day functioning and advised the district administration for suitable grievance redressal system.

However, following the Governor’s statement, Ravindranath Mahato, while addressing a public meeting of JMM, said that Raj Bhawan is acting on the directions of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A series of controversies soon erupted after allegations and counters allegations were made by both BJP and JMM on the Governor and his statement. For the past three years, the UPA (JMM, Congress, and RJD) government has been in power while the. BJP has been the main opposition. 

Meanwhile, JMM has defended Mahato’s statement and accused the Governor of acting as an agent of the Centre. They have alleged that Radhakrishnan is going around places propagating the work of the central government. Speaking to Outlook, Supriyo Bhattacharya, JMM General Secretary, says, “There is truth in whatever the speaker has said. The Governor is explicitly working for the BJP and the Centre. Wherever he is visiting, he is only trying to defame the State Government and glorify the central government. For a year, we have been observing that the Governor is making all possible efforts to disrupt the functioning of the state.”

The official Twitter handle of the ‘Governor of Jharkhand’ shows that after taking the oath as the Governor on February 18, till July, there have been 180 activities carried out by him. Almost 70 of these activities have been meetings and conversations with the public and most of these programmes have taken place across different districts. During the course of these events, he has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi thrice, Amit Shah twice, and thrice with Vice President, Jagdeep Dhankhar, and President, Draupadi Murmu twice. He has met the central minister Arjun Munda and Rajnath Singh once. The Governor has toured all 24 districts of Jharkhand. Simdega was the last destination of the tour where the villagers held a talk with the Governor. 

However, the JMM is accusing the Governor of a politically motivated tour but the BJP feels that it is a mere exercise of the powers laid down in the fifth schedule area of Jharkhand. Pratul Shahdeo, spokesperson of BJP in Jharkhand, says, “Jharkhand is a state that comes under the fifth schedule area and the Governor is the custodian of the state. That is why as compared to other states, the Governor here has more powers. He can speak on the issues of tribals, give orders and issue directions too. However, it is absolutely deplorable to see how the ruling party is accusing the Governor on this matter. It has become a trend for the political parties to speak against the Governor. Whatever the speaker has told about the Governor is absolutely unconstitutional. We have met the Governor and have asked for strict action against the speaker in this regard.”

The conflicting situation between the ruling and opposition parties is not a new phenomenon. This has also been the situation during the tenure of the erstwhile Governor Droupadi Murmu (current President of India) and Ramesh Bais (current Governor of Maharashtra). In 2020, during the last months, Draupadi Murmu and CM Hemant Soren were at loggerheads on the matter of the formation of TAC (Jharkhand Tribes Advisory Council). When Soren had sent a file for the formation of TAC to the Governor House, the Governor returned the same with suggestions and raised certain objections. This happened twice. After the file was rejected, Hemant Soren Government in June 2021, released the notification of the new rules and regulations of TAC. It lessened the power of the Governor while enhancing the powers of the chief minister to nominate the member of TAC. Following this, there has been increased tussle and controversy between the state and the Governor. 

There are ten states, including Jharkhand, that come under the fifth schedule area. Governor is the custodian here and TAC is formed to take decisions in the matters relating to the tribals. The issue of TAC continued to be a topic of discussion at the time when Ramesh Bais was sworn in as the Governor of Jharkhand in 2021. During the 19 months tenure of the Governor, there were moments of dispute between both Ramesh Bais and Hemant Soren. The CM not only attacked the Governor but accused him of acting on behalf of the Centre. The relationship became all the more sour when in the months of July-August 2022, the matter related to the profit of Soren came to the forefront. BJP raised the issue of illegal mining lease issue, related to Hemant Soren, to the Governor. This matter was forwarded to the Election Commission. The Commission sent its report to the Governor. If reports are to be believed, the letter had mentioned Hemant Soren being responsible. However, the letter received was never made public by the Governor. When the ruling party tried to know what was mentioned in the letter received from the commission, the Governor, citing constitutional provisions, refused to disclose the details of the same. 

After this incident, the Hemant Soren-led government accused the Governor of being biased towards BJP by working with it for throwing down the government in Jharkhand. Another incident of Governor Ramesh Bais’ controversial statement heated up the political atmosphere when during a speech, he said that an atomic bomb is going to explode in Jharkhand. His statement remained in the limelight for a long time. There was a lot of criticism that followed. 

Ramesh Bais again became a point of discussion after he refused to clear several Bills passed by the Jharkhand Government raising objections. On this issue, the Jharkhand parliamentary Affairs Minister, Alamgir Aalam, says, “During his term of office, three to four Bills have been passed by the State Legislative Assembly and when it reached him for approval, he raised certain objections and returned the same. Whether it was the Sarna tribe religion code, mob lynching, OBS reservation, and domicile Bill, the Governor did not give his approval on any of these Bills.”

According to a report, nine legislative Bills were sent to Ramesh Bais for approval during his tenure. He had returned all of them. They included Khatiyan-based Local Policy and OBC Reservation Bill of 1932, mob lynching Bill, Pandit Raghunath Murmu Scheduled Tribe University Bill, Jharkhand Finance Bill 2021, Jharkhand State Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing Bill 2022, Court fees Bill 2022, Jharkhand Taxation Acts Resolution of Dues Bill 2022, OBC reservation Bill, and Sarna Religion Code Bill. Later, three of them were approved.

Senior journalist, Faisal Anurag, while summing up the series of events in the last year, says, “The way the Governor is performing his role is sure to raise eyebrows of the position and they will comment. This is not only about Jharkhand. One needs to look at those states where the non-BJP government is in power. The role of governors in all these states is being questioned. These incidents have led to tarnishing the image of the revered post of the Governor. The status of the Governor is a constitutional one and it should be followed accordingly. The recent speech and the language of Governor C.P.  Radhakrishnan, cannot be justified.”

On the ongoing Governor and Speaker episodes, Alamgir Alam says, “I have never heard Governor or Speaker giving political statements. I think it is better if nothing is said on this issue. I have no idea as to what BJP is planning for Jharkhand. Since the time BJP has come to power, it has been misusing its constitutional powers and weakening the democracy.”

(translated by Kaveri Mishra)