As you sow, so shall you reap. That biblical saying ought to be foremost in the mind of the Congress leaders when they view the actions of the Modi Government. For, they should be the last persons to cite healthy constitutional practices and norms when it serves their own selfish interests, while riding mercilessly roughshod over them while they were in power. The case in point is the developing row over the replacement of the Congress appointees as Governors. Having virtually sacked those it had inherited from the previous NDA regime back in 2004, it certainly does not lie in the mouth of the Congress bigwigs to question the Modi move to replace some of those not-so-wholesome appointees tenanting various Raj Bhawans across the country. They must go. Yes, were they all men of great merit and statesmanship and had earned their current jobs due to those qualities alone, the Modi Government would be entirely wrong in seeking their removal. Such men of high calibre must be spared the axe for they are always an asset, especially in a politically milieu which is completely devoid of such high talent. Unfortunately, none of the governors appointed by the previous regime owed his or her job to anything but the mundane mendacity that is a necessary quality for being a Nehru-Gandhi courtier. Thus, you have a retired policeman who is said to have endeared himself to the children of the Gandhi family while being posted in the PM’s security as a deputy superintendent of police a couple of decades ago. Or you have a failed mofussil lawyer, whose sole claim to the plum gubernatorial assignment was that while specifically nominated to the post of law minister in the Narasimha Rao regime, he had systematically gone about burying the Bofors case a million fathoms deep. Once he had accomplished the task of judicially killing the Bofors investigations, there was no point retaining him as an active politician, so he was given the high sinecure as governor of a key southern state. Likewise, there are many more such worthies who now tenant various Raj Bhawans. The short point is that giving them the marching orders would do no harm either to the states to which they are presently accredited or to the overall tenor and tone of the national polity. So, all those crying themselves hoarse about Modi seeking the ouster of Congress-appointed governors should revisit their own words and thoughts when the Congress had wielded the big axe against the nominees of the NDA. Indeed, the Congress leadership would do well to advise its agents in various Raj Bhawans to quit without creating any fuss. Yes, there was a legal challenge to the dismissal of the NDA Governors. That challenge did yield a pronouncement from the apex court, which on several readings does not lend itself to a clear-cut yes or no for or against the removal of governors upon the change of regime in New Delhi.

Trust and confidence of the central government are important ingredients for the governors to retain their jobs. Since all of the present incumbents were known for their open partisanship and close identification with the Congress Party, it is only fair that they should not be allowed any opportunity to make things difficult for the new government. Ideally, there should be set norms for the appointment of governors. They should be men and women of great merit and achievement. Unfortunately, over the years, Raj Bhawans have become parking places for inconvenient or retired ruling party loyalists. If the Congress Party bestowed these sinecures on its partisans, the BJP is now keen to grant its old and aging leaders well-appointed retirement homes. We are not being cynical. No. We are merely acknowledging the motivations of ruling parties behind such constitutional appointments. We too can sit on the high pedestal and preach about healthy norms and conventions but, alas, that would fool no one, given the perfidious conduct of the Congress Party these past few decades. If the Congress leadership is really concerned about turning a new leaf, it should ask its appointees in various Raj Bhawans to quit and then seek a national consensus on proper norms for future appointment of governors. An all-party agreement on appointing men and women of high achievement in various fields of human activity should henceforth bind all ruling parties on the appointment of governors. But that can happen only after the Modi Government has duly replaced the Congress appointees with its own in various Raj Bhawans. Till then, let the Congress pay for its own follies.

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