Governor could exercise ‘window of discretion’ to delay swearing-in: Chidambaram

"It has not been tested constitutionally yet, but it is, I believe, available to the Governor,” says the former Union Finance Minister.

Updated - February 09, 2017 05:28 pm IST

Published - February 09, 2017 03:34 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram leaves the Parliament House, in New Delhi on Friday.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram leaves the Parliament House, in New Delhi on Friday.

Amid the growing crisis within the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in Tamil Nadu, former Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said that Governor Vidyasagar Rao could exercise a “window of discretion” to delay the swearing in of the leader elected by the ruling party’s legislative group.

Speaking to The Hindu on the eve of the launch of his book, Fearless in Opposition (Rupa Books), Mr. Chidambaram said that while “constitutionally, the Governor is bound to swear in the leader elected by a party which enjoys a majority, there is, however, a small window where the Governor can exercise his discretion and say that ‘for the following reasons, I would like to wait for a few days’. It [window of discretion] has not been tested constitutionally yet, but it is, I believe, available to the Governor.”

Mr. Chidambaram said the AIADMK leadership should address the “traction” being built around a public questioning of the election of a new leader [Sasikala Natarajan], though the fact remains that these are internal matters of the party.

“I have no comment on the internal process of the AIADMK. It is the right of the party’s MLAs to elect a leader. But once a leader is elected and projected as chief minister, it is the right of the people of Tamil Nadu to ask if that leader deserves to be chief minister,” he said. “It is our right to ask whether the AIADMK could not have chosen a better leader, than whoever they have elected,” he said without naming Ms. Natarajan.

“That question, of whether the right choice has been made, that people are asking, on social media and elsewhere, is gaining traction because of the peculiar circumstances in which the AIADMK finds itself today. Therefore, I think there is a disconnect between the AIADMK MLAs and its rank and file, the party’s leaders and the people of Tamil Nadu. This disconnect will not be resolved by OPS being replaced by another person, it will only widen,” he said.

Mr. Chidambaram saw the crisis in the AIADMK as a “horizontal split”. “The AIADMK may or may not split vertically, but it has split horizontally. The leadership and the rank and file are not connected as they were in the time when MGR or Jayalalithaa were leading the party. There is a clear horizontal split,” he said.


‘Caste polarisation acute in T.N.’

On bull taming sport jallikattu and the recent tumult in the State over its conduct, he said, “I have a take on jallikattu. According to me, it became an issue on which different people, motivated by different anxieties and concerns, could converge. In fact, many of the Marina [beach] protesters were urban youth who had perhaps never seen a jallikattu in their lives. There is deep-seated anxiety, anger and angst among the youth, particularly unemployed youth. There are no jobs. Even in a State like Tamil Nadu, which always threw up jobs in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and services sector, there are no new jobs today. Add to that the caste polarisation that has taken place in Tamil Nadu over the past few years. I have not seen such a bitter caste polarisation in the State in a long time. The Vanniyar-Dalit, Thevar-Dalit conflict and between other communities, the divide has become so acute today that it is creating anxiety and concern among the youth about its future.”

He said it was a protest movement rather than a jallikattu movement. It was a protest for a variety of reasons, but it zeroed in on jallikattu. There was also deep anger against the Central government. After 48 hours of the movement, the slogans were anti-Modi. There was no anti-Panneerselvam or anti-AIADMK slogan. ''Why? Because they see that many of their anxieties stem from the approach of the Central government which is domineering, undemocratic, divisive and one which provokes conflict. They see the BJP as a north Indian, Hindi dominated party of obscurantist leaders.”

Mr. Chidambaram said that former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, who has written a foreword for his book, was keen to continue in the post, but was edged out by the ruling party. “His exit was an orchestrated exit. I had no doubt in my mind after my brief conversations with him that he would have gladly accepted a renewed term, which would be for about two years, ending in September 2018, and if nudged he would even have till May 2019 term, which would have served the entire NDA government’s term in 2019. But clearly the government had a different idea and let loose their men to attack Raghuram Rajan and made it difficult for any self-respecting distinguished economist to continue.”

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