|‘The Congress is known to use former intelligence and police officers and retired army brass to exert control over Raj Bhavans across the country’
Barring the states of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura, the other four states all have governors who are policemen and spooks or retired army generals.
Former cop K.K. Paul has replaced R.S. Mooshahary, also a supercop, as governor of Meghalaya. While it can be argued that governors do not really matter because their post is more ornamental than anything else, in the past and even today, governors have been instrumental in enforcing the diktat of the Centre in the states and this is particularly true of the Congress party. In the past, pliable governors have in collusion with a Congress-led central government arbitrarily imposed President’s rule to jettison non-Congress led governments and to facilitate a Congress government in different states.
The Congress is known to appoint party loyalists as governors and uses former intelligence and police officers and retired army brass to exert overt and covert control over Raj Bhavans across the country. This raises several unsavoury points about the police force, particularly, its intelligence and investigation wings. Police officers on the verge of retirement ingratiate themselves with the powers that be in Delhi so that they have uninterrupted careers for themselves. Such a self-serving police force cannot be doing its job too well and this is evident in how the CBI is conducting itself — as an extension of the ruling party and as an advocate of its shenanigans.
One cannot forget that M.K. Narayanan was the national security adviser when the infamous Mumbai attacks took place on November 26, 2008. While much was made of the then home minister Shivraj Patil’s sartorial tastes and his penchant for changing clothes several times in a day, not much was discussed about Narayanan’s own lack of contribution towards a better policing approach in insurgency and Maoist-affected states (having been a cop for at least three decades and held the top job in the Intelligence Bureau). His approach to the 26/11 incident was lacklustre and exposed his own abysmal lack of understanding of the internal security situation in the country at the time. Yet, Narayanan was rewarded for his incompetence by being exalted to the post of West Bengal governor only because of his unstinted loyalties to 10 Janpath. Such are the trajectories of policing in this country!
The appointment of ex-CBI director Ashwani Kumar as Nagaland governor had elicited scathing comments from the BJP and other non-Congress parties. BJP leader M.M. Joshi said the appointment of an ex-CBI director as governor suggests a quid pro quo, thereby implying that he had done the Congress party’s bidding during his tenure in the CBI.
An editorial in a leading national newspaper sometime ago alleged that intelligence, security and police officers are almost always close to the political party in power and, therefore, they make for even more loyal governors. By promising them governorships after retirement, the nexus becomes even stronger. The editorial went on to say that while all governments may have used gubernatorial appointments for political purposes, the Congress’s use of former cops or spooks as governors stands out for consistent misuse. It shows that the governor’s post is not politically neutral.
This also implies that officers who do not toe the government line and are honest enough to tell the ruling mandarins the truth are disdainfully ignored and will never be rewarded for serving the country. Hence, the message to the entire hierarchy of the police establishment from security, law and order to intelligence and investigation wings is clear— do your duties at your own peril. Why then are we surprised when police consistently fail to deliver and when they flounder and fail? They are conditioned to steer away from professionalism. Those are the undertones that the government delivers to them at the personal level even as it waxes eloquent about police accountability and professionalism at memorial lectures that are organised at sundry forum in the national capital. For those who know how the system actually works it is a frustrating journey of watching their hard work compromised by their seniors and juniors after them at the altar of expediency and politics.
Manipur governor Gurbachan Jagat, a 1966 batch IPS officer of the Punjab cadre, is probably put there to try and bottle up the chaos. Manipur has had army generals and policemen as governors for several decades. Recently, Lt Gen. (retired) Nirbhay Sharma became the governor of Arunachal Pradesh after Gen. J.J. Singh completed his tenure. Sharma’s credit is that he served in the trouble-torn state of Kashmir and the northeastern states. He is important to report on Chinese incursion in Arunachal Pradesh!
These appointments are instructive as they indicate a certain lack of trust by the Centre in the governance capability of chief ministers of the region. And it is also a message to the states under discussion that they belong to the category of the “troubled” and would, therefore, require a vigilant eye from former army officers, cops and spooks. Not a very flattering picture of the region one would presume and certainly nothing that the people of the Northeast can be proud of. I am only surprised at the warm welcome that these retired types receive from the respective states. It tells you a lot about the temperament of the people here!
In Meghalaya’s case, outgoing governor R.S. Mooshahary, a former top cop who commanded the National Security Guard (NSG) during the Akshardham encounter, played a key role in exposing the scams in a private university towards the end of his governorship. The self-appointed chancellor of CMJ University, Chandra Mohan Jha, is still absconding even after several FIRs have been filed against him personally and against the university for turning it into a degree-awarding factory. The CMJU had literally set up education shops across the country asking people to register for their PhDs and promising to give a degree to them in three months. Thousands of scholars wanting PhD degrees through short-cuts have been duped by the CMJU.
Mooshahary is remembered by the people of Meghalaya for the short stint of President’s rule he advocated after a political turmoil in Meghalaya in March-May 2009. During that time, Mooshahary took over the administration and true to form made surprise visits to government hospitals, the state secretariat and other state run institutions. At the Shillong secretariat, he caught employees playing computer games and hauled them up. The streets at the time were free of traffic jams and things moved like clockwork. It is ironic but no one missed the government. They welcomed President’s rule and even suggested that it remain in force for a longer period since the delivery system had improved remarkably.
Mooshahary, though a Bodo, could recite lengthy shlokas better than most pundits. He was also intellectually inclined and never read from a prepared text at any function. In fact, Mooshahary who had studied in Shillong as a college student very quickly endeared himself to the people. He had quickly shed the formality of his uniform. The people of Meghalaya wonder if their next governor, a much- decorated policeman, would be able to do that. They must wait and watch I suppose!
(The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)