Karnataka governor Hansraj Bhardwaj has managed to make himself the cynosure of all eyes. First by receiving a petition from the Congress MLC against the Reddy brothers, then by issuing a showcause notice to three State ministers, and now by telling the media that he had asked chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa to drop them.
Notwithstanding the gravity of the charges against the brothers and the untenability of the government’s defence, the governor’s proactive approach has invited plenty of brickbats, even as he merrily meets the President, prime minister and home minister while the whispers of Article 356 grow louder.
“Apart from placing himself in direct conflict with the elected government, Bharadwaj has, by his impropriety, lent credence to the allegation that he has acted as an “agent of the Congress” in meddling with the ugly political controversy raging in Karnataka. If it is too much for him to show the restraint, dignity, and even-handedness expected of the Governor’s office, he must resign or be replaced forthwith.”
“What makes Bhardwaj’s crude effort to destabilise the Yediyurappa government so extraordinary is that he, of all people, should be so concerned about the need for “probity and integrity” — two words he has taken to using very frequently of late while castigating the Reddy Brothers, whom he has amazingly declared guilty of indulging in corrupt practices without even a formal inquiry — in the government.
“As Law Minister in the first UPA Government, he bent every rule in the book and made a mockery of the criminal justice system to get the Italian middleman Ottavio Quattrocchi, wanted by the CBI to stand trial as the key accused in the Bofors bribery case, off the hook. It was Bhardwaj’s expertise that was used by the Congress to bury a scandal that had come to symbolise corruption in high places. And, it was Bhardwaj’s intervention that ensured Quattrocchi was able to access the bribe money that had been parked in two London bank accounts which were frozen when the NDA was in power.”
Mail Today counsels the governor against crossing the line:
“Unfortunately, nothing that the governor has done till now suggests that he is conscious of the limits to his gubernatorial powers. If Bhardwaj thinks the constitutional system has broken down in the state he can certainly recommend the government’s dismissal to the President. But what he should not do is to address press conferences on the matter, as happened on Tuesday…. It would also help if he realised that his long political career has not endowed him with the credentials or the credibility of being seen as some kind of a political reformer.”