India: Advice to Tamil Nadu Governor on Chief Minister Appointment

by N.S.Venkataraman

( February 11, 2017, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) A political crisis is now is happening in Tamil Nadu  province (India),  where a chief minister has been forced to resign by the ambitious general secretary of the political party that the chief minister belongs to. The chief minister who yielded to the coercion , then rebelled later on and appealed to the governor not to accept the resignation since he signed the letter under threat and coercion. There is huge public support for the ousted chief minister  and the party secretary wants to become the chief minister herself and is  supported by her party legislative assembly members.The governor who has to appoint the chief minister  appears to be confused and uncertain.

Sometimes, the President or the Governor has to take a decision keeping the overall interest of the state,  instead of simply  deciding on the basis of the letter of the constitution or established  procedures.

In the case of present chaos in Tamil Nadu , there is a lady candidate claiming right  for the chief ministership on the basis of the number of MLAs that are supposed to support her.

However, the Governor has to take note of the fact that the above lady chief minister candidate and her group has taken large number of MLAs to a resort and kept them virtually within closed door, to prevent them from acting independently, which is illegal act. Her men are said to be blocking the public road leading to the resort to prevent anyone contacting  the “imprisoned MLAs”. Even their mobile phones are said to be jammed.

Further, when there is a complaint by the family members of the “4 imprisoned MLAs”  to the police that the particular MLAs  cannot be contacted and may be   under forced stay in the resort by the lady Chief Minister candidate, is it not the duty of the police to question her and even take her into custody if the complaint is genuine?

Is not the governor entitled to become suspicious of the motives of such  chief minister  candidate?  Is he not justified in hesitating to  invite such a person to be sworn in and  asking her to test  her strength in the assembly?

Further,  the above lady chief minister candidate is not even a MLA now and how can a non MLA be asked to be swear  in  as chief minister and  test the strength in the floor of the assembly , in a situation where the party is split and the credibility and acceptance is seriously questioned?

When the ousted chief minister ( now interim chief minister) claims  that he has been forced to resign by coercion and wants his resignation to be treated as cancelled , should not the Governor consider this aspect also ?  Even in the court cases, a witness is allowed to become hostile and change his view. Why not the same logic be applied in this case also, when the person says that he was forced to sign his resignation letter under coercion ? Is it not the duty of the governor and the police to investigate it and if there is any indication of this claim even being partly proved, then should not the person be given benefit of doubt?

Should not the governor take into consideration the overwhelming views of the people against the lady chief minister candidate, as the swearing in of such person may even lead to law and order issue. After all, Tamil Nadu government had to bow down to the mob protest recently in the case of jallikattu agitation. Is not the governor justified in being anxious about the development of such situation once  again?

Should a Governor ignore the fact that  the lady chief minister candidate has been convicted on a grave corruption case which was stayed by higher court and the highest court of the country is still to deliver the  appeal judgement ?

Tamil Nadu had a new chief minister sworn in just two months back  and if  the above lady were to be sworn in now and then the judgement of the highest court would  convict her  , then there has to be another chief minister to be sworn in,  in a few days from now. Since it is only a few days ahead of judgement, Governor is entitled to wait for the judgment before giving his decision.

Appropriate  advice to the governor is that he must wait for the verdict of the Supreme Court on the lady chief minister candidate, whatever may be the number of days that one has to wait. He also should  enquire about “imprisonment of MLAs” and find if the lady chief minister candidate is responsible for this.

One mistake that  the governor appears to be  doing is that he has not explained to the people so far  as to why he is delaying the decision. He is entitled to take decision as he deems fit but he should say why he is delaying the decision.

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