Full-page folly

Jharkhand governor’s a liability. Why’s he still in office?

Written by The Indian Express | Published: February 18, 2009 10:42:09 pm

Syed Sibtey Razi would like to enjoy the fruits of loyalty. When he was minister of state for home under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao,he was the truest of the true; as a Congress spokesman subsequently,he wore his allegiance to his party and the family that dominates it on his sleeve,as is considered proper for a Congress spokesman. Now he is governor of a state,as have been many loyal partymen before him; but he does not seem to have realised that what was permissible,even encouraged,for a vocal loyalist isn’t expected,is indeed frowned upon,for His Excellency the Governor of Jharkhand.

Razi’s appointment,by the then new UPA government to an NDA-ruled state,was problematic from his first couple of months,when he decided to question the government’s decision to convene a session of the state assembly after elections had been notified in late 2004. Since then,he has stumbled from one politicised disaster to another,most notably when,in March 2005,he invited Shibu Soren to form a government when the NDA appeared to have the support of 41 members in the 81-strong assembly. That decision was reviled even within his own party,with the national-level Congress hastily dissociating itself from the decision once it blew up.

And now,with Jharkhand under president’s rule for almost a month and the Vidhan Sabha in suspended animation,Governor Razvi decided to take out full-page advertisements in local newspapers trumpeting his achievements. This is something that we have become sadly accustomed to from much of our political class,though even they would probably blanch at blowing their own trumpets just a few weeks in,especially when the highlighted achievements include such gems as “meeting with police officers to tell them to maintain law and order.” But from a governor,the president’s representative,supposedly apolitical,a place-holder till the democratic process can resume? What it will bring back — as,indeed,has Razi’s behaviour previously — are memories of the dangerous,anti-democratic use of the governor’s office by the Centre through the ’80s and earlier,especially during the Emergency. Those memories will only be enhanced by his eagerness to make public statements insisting that “political instability” associated with electoral politics is holding back the state’s development. The days when such behaviour was acceptable are supposed to have passed.

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