Govern with care: Bhagat Singh Koshyari's 'secular' concern
Sir — Law-abiding citizens of the country are unable to understand how a governor, the holder of a constitutional post, can question a chief minister’s administrative decisions by accusing him of being overtly “secular” (“Governor’s letter to Uddhav”, Oct 14). The governor of Maharashtra, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, appealed to the Hindutva credentials of Uddhav Thackeray while seeking the reopening of places of worship in the state. The chief minister aptly replied by reminding the governor that secularism is an inalienable facet of the Constitution.
One wonders what might be the reason behind Koshyari urging Thackeray to open places of worship in Maharashtra when the Union health minister, Harsh Vardhan, had recently asked citizens to abstain from congregating in large numbers and to worship from the safety of their homes. It is highly unseemly for a governor to interfere or question the administrative decisions of the chief minister. In our school and college days, governors were never in the news. These days, however, several governors like Jagdeep Dhankhar and Kiran Bedi, among others, have been known to interfere with the working of the elected government. They have not only failed to fulfil their constitutional duties but their overt political stances have also raised questions about whether they have become mere stooges of the Centre, trying to undermine elected governments especially in states where the Bharatiya Janata Party is not in power. It is time that governors respect their constitutional position and retain the dignity of their office.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee,
Sir — Even though Uddhav Thackeray’s decision to open bars, malls and restaurants, while keeping places of worship closed is questionable, the letter sent by Bhagat Singh Koshyari, was uncalled for. In India, the post of the governor is purely ornamental and he or she is expected to work in cooperation with the chief minister of the state, no matter which political party he or she belonged to before occupying the post.
The accusations of turning “secular” are not unexpected. The Shiv Sena’s politics stands on catering to the demands of the Hindu majority. With its newly formed alliance with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, the Sena has become far more muted in its Hindutva ideals. Whether this commitment to secularism is a result of an ideological compromise that the chief minister has been compelled to reach in order to retain his position within the alliance remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that considering the rapid spread of Covid-19 in Maharashtra, the Thackeray is right to keep places of worship closed longer. Leaders must continue to prioritize the safety of the people and not succumb to pressures.
Sir — It is worrying how in his letter to Uddhav Thackeray, Bhagat Singh Koshyari has laid bare his preference for the word “Hindutva” over “secularism”. Shockingly, the governor accused Thackeray of having “suddenly turned secular”. It seems that Koshyari is wearing two hats at the same time — one of a governor and the other of a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak. These are mutually incompatible. This is a blatant disrespect of the constitutional role of the governor. Thackeray rightly reminded him that secularism is the bedrock of the Indian democracy. Furthermore, in his rush to appease the Hindu majority, Koshyari seems to have forgotten that Maharashtra has one of the highest infection rates in India.
It is typical of the BJP to misconstrue the Maharashtra government’s decision to defer the reopening of temples for reasons of safety as an assault on Hindutva. This overrides the directive of the Union health minister, Harsh Vardhan, to worship from the safety of one’s home. All places of worship where devotees can congregate in large numbers pose the risk of spreading the contagion. It is time we prioritize public safety over religion.
G. David Milton,
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu
Sir — As with most institutions these days, the office of the governor, too, has been abused beyond the comprehension of the founding fathers of our nation. The letter sent by Bhagat Singh Koshyari to Uddhav Thackeray can rightfully be seen as an attempt to communalize the handling of the pandemic.
Race against time
Sir — As the Arctic circle continues to warm at two or three times the global rate — summer ice may disappear by 2042 — emission reductions or renewable energy programs are no longer enough. The idea of alternative geo-engineering projects — this includes underwater sea walls and rewilding the tundra — have gained traction. But the fight against climate change must be a global endeavour — the Donald Trump administration alone has reversed almost a hundred environmental rules. Unless everyone understands the urgency of the situation, no amount of innovative methods will help.