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A Letter from a Governor

The dignity of public institutions depends on the practice of constitutional ideals.

The correspondence that recently took place between the governor of Maharashtra and the chief minister of the state once again brings forth the tense relationship between the two constitutional authorities. However, the content of the letter written by the governor to the chief minister is not only different from their troubled relationship in the past, but it is much more disturbing. The content of the letter goes much beyond the usual grounds of historical disputes between the state and the governor and poses a serious challenge to the secular character of Indian federalism. As the history of the embattled relationship between the governor’s and chief minister’s office from different states shows, in most of the cases, it is the governor who at the instance of the central government seems to have adopted a hostile, partisan and discriminatory attitude towards the state governments ruled by political parties other than the one at the centre. In some cases, the state governments have also dragged the governor into political controversy. However, on a number of occasions in the past, the role of governor has been criticised on the grounds that the former had used the power and discretion to favour a particular ruling party, even at the risk of outraging certain constitutional procedures, norms and principles.

According to the Indian Constitution, the governor’s office is supposed to be independent of politics. The autonomy of the governor, however, can be ensured only in certain political conditions. The role of governor is likely to remain less controversial in the condition where both the central and the state governments are ruled by the same political party. One-party dominance constitutes a political framework that can lessen the tension between the chief minister and the governor. In such a case, it may not be necessary for the incumbent governor to destabilise and pull down the democratically elected government in the state.

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Updated On : 28th Oct, 2020

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