3 Southern State Governments Clash With Governors


Kerala journalists today marched in protest to the Governor’s house against his “undemocratic behaviour”.


A major fight is brewing in the three southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana, between the Governors and the ruling parties. Interestingly, the ruling parties are not just taking on the Governor in their own states, but also looking to consolidate support across party lines and states.

Governors in the three southern states have been accused of acting like “puppets of the Centre” by state governments who have had several run-ins with them on key legislations. Anger against the Centre-appointed Governors has now spilled over across states, with the respective ruling parties questioning the constitutional provisions of the Governor’s post itself.

Kerala, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu have seen sharp attacks and counterattacks between the state governments and their Governors over a host of issues. Several protest demonstrations and marches have been planned against the Governors.

Tamil Nadu’s ruling party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) today attacked Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, who is also under fire from the state’s ruling party — K Chandrashekar Rao-led TRS — over recruitments in state universities, for “poking her nose” in the neighbouring state’s politics.

DMK mouthpiece Murasoli today responded to Governor Soundararajan’s tacit remarks that Tamil Nadu’s top political family, the DMK, has Telugu roots.

“Telangana Governor should not do politics in Tamil Nadu. This is not her job. Let her resign and do politics in Tamil Nadu,” it said, adding that Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi already “exceeds limits and makes remarks causing confusion”.

Tamilisai Soundararajan should function within political and legal parameters, and the honour of states, Murasoli said.

The DMK had earlier this month written a letter to ‘all the like-minded MPs’ urging them to back a proposal seeking removal of RN Ravi for “acting against the Constitution”. They said his actions and comments showed he was “unfit” for the post. They have also asked all like-minded MPs to sign the memorandum.

There are as many as 20 Bills pending Governor’s assent in Tamil Nadu. In April, DMK party leaders had registered protests against RN Ravi for not sending the NEET Exemption Bill to the President after being passed twice in the state Assembly.

Meanwhile, Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan is also at loggerheads with the state government. She has summoned the state’s Education Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy to discuss a common recruitment board for all 15 state universities in accordance with University Grants Commission rules.

Ms Soundararajan asked why vacancies have not been filled even after several reminders in the last three years.

The TRS-led state government had sent a Bill to the Governor — one of eight pending with her — that would allow direct recruitment to teaching and non-teaching posts, except in medical university, for her approval. Her refusal to sign it has enraged Telangana university students as well, who called her a “puppet of the Centre” and warned of marching to the Raj Bhavan in protest on Wednesday.

Governor Soundararajan has also accused the state government of not following protocol courtesies. She said she wasn’t allowed to address the people on Republic Day this year. She was also denied the opportunity to address a joint session of the state assembly.

The state’s counter-accusation is that the Governor had refused to sign a cabinet resolution appointing TRS leader Kaushik Reddy as an MLC under the Governor quota.

In Kerala, Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, already in a bitter war of words with the CPI(M) led government, has also stoked the ire of journalists by expelling two of them from top Malayalam TV channels from his press briefing at the Ernakulam guest house.

While Governor Khan accused the two journalists and their channels of bias towards the Pinarayi Vijayan government, the state’s journalists body has slammed him for “undemocratic behaviour” as this was not the first time he barred journalists. Last month, he called some journalists and news outlets “cadre media” and ordered that they not be allowed at a press conference he was addressing.

Journalists, under the banner of Kerala Union of Working Journalists, today marched in protest to the Governor’s house.

On Monday, Governor Khan had “challenged” the state government to “barge into my office” or “attack me on the road”. He was reacting to the announcement by the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) that a massive protest would be held in front of Raj Bhavan on November 15.

The party alleges that the governor has been delaying key legislations.

On October 26, the Left party also staged a protest march against the Governor over his order demanding resignation from university Vice-Chancellors over what he terms “a system of oligarchy”.

The CPI(M) has demanded that the Governor’s post be abolished. The party plans to organise a meeting in Delhi, inviting like-minded parties, to discuss the constitutional provisions regarding the post of Governor.

The party is also considering going to the Supreme Court on his refusal to give assent to Bills forwarded after cabinet approval. They argue that a Governor cannot sit as an appellate authority over the decision of the cabinet or the legislature.

The constitutional position is that a Governor is appointed and serves at the pleasure of the President, and his removal will also have to happen through the President. On Bills sent by a state cabinet for assent, the Governor can send it back once, but if the cabinet re-sends it, they cannot send it back. 

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