On a day when Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari swore in Devendra Fadnavis as Maharashtra Chief Minister in an early morning ceremony, President Ram Nath Kovind said governors have an important role to play, especially as the country transits from “cooperative to competitive federalism”, and in protecting the Constitution.
He was addressing the inaugural session of the two-day Conference of Governors and Lt Governors at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday. Koshiyari was not present at the session.
Kovind said, “In our Constitutional System, governors play an important role. Today when, in the interest of the nation, the emphasis is on competitive federalism instead of cooperative federalism, the governor’s role has become even more important. All of you have massive experience of public service, people should derive maximum benefit from this experience and your efficiency.”
In his address, PM Narendra Modi asked governors and lieutenant governors to listen to the needs of the people and to work for the underprivileged, including minorities.
“As we celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Governors and Lt Governors could utilise this occasion to project the abiding relevance of Gandhian thoughts and values…,” the PM said.
While cooperative federalism means that the Centre and state governments along with representatives of local bodies formulate similar policies for the betterment of people, competitive federalism means states competing among themselves as well as with the Centre.
The President made a special mention of the Lt Governors of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, R K Mathur and G C Murmu, respectively. It was the first representation at the conference from the two newly carved out UTs.
Kovind made an emphatic reference to the welfare of tribals and said their development and empowerment were linked to inclusive growth as well as internal security of the country. “Governors can give proper guidance by using the constitutional powers given to them to improve the lives of these people.”
Calling the goal of the new education policymaking India a “knowledge superpower”, he said governors had a role to play in this too as chancellors.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also addressed the session.
Speaking about the agenda items, the President said the conference had been structured in accordance with “the new work culture” of New India and that five subjects were chosen after discussions — reforms in agriculture; Jal Jeevan Mission; new education policy for higher education; and governance for ‘Ease of Living’.