State Governors coterminous with Central Govt?

I fully support an incoming Central govt. starting on a clean slate by appointing its own emissaries to the states: Governor. A Governor by definition is Centre’s representative to oversee the affairs of the state government, and as such needs full confidence of the Centre to perform her role. This confidence of Centre is precisely what gives her legitimacy in the state capital because she isn’t otherwise democratically elected. Her role becomes super-critical if the state comes under President’s rule (as Delhi is as we speak). If the Centre cannot rule the state under such circumstances because of a hostile governor, well, she loses the confidence of Centre to remain situated in that high office.

A glimpse of what Modi regime is facing today: Several former full-time Congress leaders such as HR Bharadwaj, Shiela Dixit, Kamala Beniwal, and Margaret Alva occupying Raj Bhavans across the state capitals. The most memorable appointment is of Shiela Dixit’s who just made it in the nick of time before UPA govt fell. There is news that Centre has informally asked some of them to put in their papers.

However, my request to Modi government is this: Please institutionalize the arrangement of a Governor resigning when a new Central govt. takes over. This will take discretion / arbitrariness out of the process, and give Centre a free hand to choose their emissary without having to invent reasons to defend in Supreme Court. Governors can be treated at par with Union Cabinet and Secretaries whose terms also expire with the Prime Minister. Every governor should voluntarily submit their resignations at the advent of a regime change. The new Prime Minister can always choose to retain some governors on the grounds of political neutrality and administrative skills, while letting go of the political appointees of the previous regime.

I hope the government brings in appropriate amendments to laws (and Constitution if necessary) for this institutionalization. Once the idea is institutionalized, the scope for misuse narrows.

Kerala Gov. Shiela Dixit (Source: alternates/FREE_768/sheila%20Dikshit)


Wannabe PMs’ Debate: First, can we debate Track Record vs. Tape Record?

I find it absolutely funny that there’s a petition calling for Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal, and Rahul Gandhi to “debate” on their national agenda. And, nothing surprising here, LordAK has signed this petition!


Of the three, there’s only one leader with a solid track record of serving the country for 12+ years. The second one has tape record, and a track record of running away from responsibility and hard work. The third one lacks even that tape record.

First of all, how can the petitioner select only these three when there are scores of more accomplished political leaders such as Ms. Jayalalithaa or Ms. Mamata Banerjee or Mr. Naveen Patnaik or Mr. Shivraj Chauhan or Mr. Nitish Kumar who have track record? These leaders might probably have better chances of becoming PMs than LordAK.

Modi is a declared PM candidate of NDA, Rahul is the undeclared one of UPA, and LordAK is the media-declared one. Naturally, the media wants to promote him to be in the same league as serious PM contenders. His Made-for-TV statements during debate will also add spice to their primetime TRP ratings.

I have nothing against TV debate among PM contenders per se, but a debate, to be credible, should be among serious contenders for power. Otherwise, the one who has no chance/intention of becoming PM has least stake in the debate, and can throw in irresponsible statements such as:

  • “I will solve world hunger” or
  • “All my opponents are in Ambani’s pockets” or
  • “I am the only honest person in India” or
  • “There’s not an atom of development in Gujarat.”

That person has nothing to lose, and everything to gain by making bombastic, self-righteous statements. This is by design. A serious contender for power has everything to lose by trying to engage with a Made-for-TV personality.

Therefore, I do agree with Arun Jaitley’s wise advice to Modi not to engage with mavericks who have little stake in the system: Nothing to lose, everything to gain by making wild allegations when a camera hits your face.

Elections are also a great occasion for the mavericks. A maverick per se is independent in thought and action. He is not bound by the conventional rules. He is out of the ordinary. He shrills and at times is outlandish. He knows every trick on how to focus attention on himself. He attracts attention and publicity. He has no qualms about switching positions. He is more colorful on electronic media than conventional politicians. Social media particularly the Twitter has a huge space for accommodating the maverick opinions. Many mavericks are committed to ‘rent a cause’ philosophy. They are on the lookout for causes which they can espouse.

… Their style is unconventional. They make arguments in an idiom intended to derive maximum publicity. A maverick has a habit of making allegations without substance. Conventional politicians are reluctant to join issue with them because a maverick is capable of hitting below the belt. He is a wild card.

I have always wondered how to deal with a maverick. Do you answer questions which a maverick puts to you? Do you meet him when he tries to gate crash into your house? Do you allow him to occupy the centre stage by engaging him or do you ignore him and continue with your conventional style of setting the agenda? That I feel is a safer option. Silence can be the best response to a maverick. Silence is dignified. It saves you the embarrassment of engaging with a maverick on his bizarre agenda.