'How can we tolerate if a Constitutionally-appointed governor acts in violation of the Constitution?'
On Tuesday, September 21, the ongoing tussle between the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra and Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari took a new turn when Koshyari's letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray asking him to convening a special session of the state assembly against the backdrop of the Sakinaka rape and murder received a stern response.
Thackeray asked Koshyari to request the Centre to call a session of Parliament to discuss issues concerning the safety of women and growing attacks on them in India.
The resumption of hostilities follows state Minister Nawab Malik of the Nationalist Congress Party accusing Koshyari of trying to "hijack" executive powers last month.
Malik was referring to Koshyari's plans to inaugurate two hostels in Nanded district as well as hold review meetings with the district collector when he was scheduled to tour the district on August 5 and 6.
"On what Constitutional basis can the governor review administrative work? The Constitution does not give him that right. That belongs only to the elected executive. He cannot hijack the executive powers of an elected government," Malik, Maharashtra's minority development minister, told Rediff.com.
The MVA had raised objections last year when Koshyari -- a former Uttarakhand chief minister -- held review meetings related to the state administration's COVID-19 preparations.
Koshyari also had a run-in with Thackeray over the nomination of 12 members to the state legislative council.
"He should know that it is the district magistrate that sends his reports to the chief minister who is the chief executive in the state. He cannot take review meeting of district administration," said Malik.
"How can we tolerate if a Constitutionally-appointed governor acts in violation of the Constitution?" the minister asked.
"If you need any information about any matter, in any district, the governor can always ask the chief secretary for it. Even if you have suggestions or feedback, that too has to be routed through the chief secretary," he added.
"I don't know if he has asked the Maharashtra chief secretary for any information," Malik said when asked if the governor has followed the rule book.
"Our position is clear: The MVA will not tolerate the governor calling for a review meeting of district administration and create a new power centre," said Malik emphasising that the MVA, comprising the Shiv Sena, the NCP and Congress, is keeping a close watch on Koshyari's activities.
"India is still a Constitutional democracy and in our Parliamentary and legislative system there are proper checks and balances and clear division of power, duties and responsibilities of all the organs of the executive," Malik said.
"The elected leader of Parliament, of the legislative assemblies is the real executive of the nation and states respectively. The governor's position, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined by our Constitution," Malik pointed out.
"Are we supposed to meekly accept violation of rights conferred upon the executive by our Constitution? We will not," Malik asserted. "We will raise our objections. We sincerely hope that the governor stops meddling with the powers of the elected executive."
Asked if the governor is politicking at the Centre's behest, Malik said, "We are not concerned about whose bidding the governor is doing, but we know for sure that we will not tolerate any interference of the governor in the functioning of an elected government."
"Similarly, it is also our responsibility not to interfere with the powers assigned to him by our Constitution and we have been strictly observing that delineation. The governor must also do the same."