Governors’ tryst with controversies

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Updated: Jul 28, 2020 2:29 PM

There have been past precedents when Governors have also courted controversy by not inviting the single largest party to form the government.

Rajasthan Governor Kalraj Mishra has twice returned the Ashok Gehlot government’s proposal to convene a special Assembly session.

The ruling Congress in Rajasthan is struggling to contain the crisis triggered by an open revolt led by Sachin Pilot. Although Pilot was sacked as deputy CM and Congress’ Rajasthan unit chief, the crisis triggered by him appears to be far from a logical end. The Congress party has urged the Governor’s office to summon a special Assembly session to checkmate Pilot and 18 other dissident MLAs. However, the delay on the Governor’s part has only irked the Congress with its leaders accusing the Governor of being under pressure from the BJP.

The accusation against the Governor’s office is not new. Be it the Congress or the BJP, whichever party formed the government at the Centre, have been accused of misusing the Governor’s office in states ruled by opposition parties for political purposes. This time again, the ruling Congress in Rajasthan has accused the Modi government of misusing the Governor’s office.

This is not the first time when the Governor has courted controversy. There have been past precedents when Governors have also courted controversy by not inviting the single largest party to form the government. Take a look at past incidents:


Andhra Pradesh

In August-September 1984, Andhra Pradesh Governor Ram Lal had installed minister Nadendla Bhaskara Rao as Chief Minister when incumbent CM NT Rama Rao had gone to foreign for a heart surgery.


In the same year, Sikkim Governor Homi Taleyarkhan had dismissed the Nar Bahadur Bhandari ministry.
The incidents had taken place during the Congress regime headed by Indira Gandhi.



In 1988, then Karnataka governor P Venkatasubbaiah had dismissed the SR Bommai government. The move had triggered a legal battle. The matter was settled in 1994  with a landmark Bommai judgement by the Supreme Court.
In 1988, the Congress government at the centre was headed by Rajiv Gandhi.

Bommai government had plunged into a crisis after a rebellion by MLA KR Molakery. Molakery claimed the support of 18 MLAs. Although Bommai claimed to enjoy a majority, he was not given an opportunity to prove it.

Governor Venkatasubbaiah recommended imposition of President’s Rule which was accepted by the Rajiv Gandhi government.



In 1996, Gujarat Governor KP Singh had recommended President’s rule. At that time, the BJP was in power and at the Centre it was the United Front government headed by HD Deve Gowda.

The crisis for the Suresh Mehta government began after a revolt by Shankarsinh Vaghela and 40-odd MLAs. Mehta’s government, however, survived as he proved his majority. The session had witnessed a bloody clash between MLAs following which the Governor had cited a breakdown of the constitutional machinery and recommended the President’s rule.


Uttar Pradesh

In the midst of Lok Sabha elections in 1998, the BJP government headed by Kalyan Singh wobbled after the 22-member Loktantrik Congress headed by Jagadambika Pal withdrew support. Governor Romesh Bhandari dismissed the Kalyan Singh government and invited Pal to form the government and administered him the oath of office and secrecy of the Chief Minister’s office.

Kalyan Singh fought a legal battle and the court reinstated him and ordered a floor test. Singh smoothly won the trust vote.



The 2005 Assembly elections in Bihar delivered a hing verdict. No party or alliance was in a position to form the government and the President’s rule was imposed.

The NDA comprising the JD(U) and BJP claimed the support of 115 MLAs two months later as it had managed the support of some LJP MLAs and independents. Then Governor Buta Singh, however, dissolved the Assembly as he feared it could lead to horse-trading.

The Union Cabinet met at midnight and faxed the Governor’s report to President Abdul Kalam who was in Moscow. Kalam approved the recommendation of the Central rule in two hours and the Assembly was dissolved.

The matter reached the Supreme Court. The top court came down heavily on Buta Singh who later resigned. The Supreme Court said that the dissolution of the Assembly was unconstitutional. It also said that Buta Singh had misled the Centre. Besides, the court pointed out that the Union Council of Ministers should have cross-checked before accepting the Governor’s recommendation.


In the same year, the Assembly elections in Jharkhand didn’t give a clear majority to any part. However, the NDA claimed that it has the numbers to form the government but Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibtey Razi overruled the NDA’s claims and installed Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Shibu Soren as Chief Minister.

Soren had to resign without facing a trust vote after nine days and BJP’s Arjun Munda was sworn in as the next Chief Minister.

Both the incidents took place during the Congress regime headed by Manmohan Singh at the Centre.



The Congress government headed by Harish Rawat had plunged into crisis in Uttarakhand in March 2016 after nine MLAs joined the BJP. The BJP then staked the claim to form the government and Then Governor KK Paul asked the Chief Minister to prove his majority by March 28. But a day before the trust vote, the Speaker disqualified the nine Congress rebels.

The NDA government at the Centre imposed President’s rule in the state on the recommendation of the Governor. The Harsh Rawat government was not given a chance to prove his majority.

The Congress took the matter to the High Court and the court ruled in favour of Rawat. The HC quashed imposition of President’s Rule and asked Rawat to prove his majority. Rawat proved a majority in the House and his government survived.



The 2017 Assembly elections in Goa didn’t give a majority to any party. The Congress had emerged as the single largest party with 17 seats in the 40-member House. The BJP had won 13 seats.

Governor Mridula Sinha, however, invited the BJP to form the government. The saffron party had forged a post-poll alliance with some regional parties and independents. The BJP formed the government under Manohar Parrikar’s leadership.


Assembly elections took place in Manipur in the same year. The Congress emerged the single largest party with 28 seats in the 60-member House.

Governor Najma Heptullah, however, invited the BJP first after it submitted a list of MLAs supporting it.



In Karnataka as well, the BJP had emerged as the single largest party after the Assembly elections. The party fell just eight seats short of the halfway mark in the 224-member House.

The Congress, however, announced a post-poll alliance with the JD(S) to gain majority in the House. But Governor Vajubhai Vala invited the BJP to form the government and gave 15 days to prove the majority.

The Congress then rushed to the Supreme Court against the Governor’s decision. The court curtailed the time and asked Yeddyurappa to prove his majority. BSY, however, resigned before the floor test.



The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance secured a comfortable majority in the Assembly elections held in 2019 in Maharashtra. But the alliance couldn’t form the government due to differences over CM’s chair. The state was intimately placed under the Central rule at Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari’s recommendation.

The Shiv Sena then sided with the Congress and NCP. However, before the three parties could stake the claim, Governor Koshiyari administered the oath of the CM’s office to BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis with NCP leader Ajit Pawar his deputy. The President’s rule was revoked at 5.47 am in the morning and oath took place with hours.

Fadnavis had to resign later before the floor test and Uddhav Thackeray took oath as the next CM with the support of the Congress and NCP.

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