NEW DELHI: Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh is likely to get into trouble for his remarks that Narendra Modi should return as the Prime Minister in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections as President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday asked Centre to take “further action” in the matter.
This comes days after the Election Commission (EC) raised the issue with the President saying, Singh’s act was against the Model Code of Conduct.
Sources at President’s Secretariat confirmed the development and told this newspaper, “EC’s letter on this issue has been sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs for further action.” President Kovind acted after returning from an international visit this morning.
This could be a big test of neutrality for the President just ahead of the General election. The Congress has also sought time from the President requesting him to remove Singh as Governor. The party said that he has tarnished the established traditions and accepted norms of the office of Governor.
Last month, Kalyan Singh was caught on camera calling for the re-election of Modi “for the sake of the country.”
The code, which has been in place since March 10-- the day the national election was announced, does not apply to constitutional authorities like the governor, Comptroller and Auditor General of India etc but there is an unwritten code that people holding constitutional posts should not campaign or support any political party or candidate.
A similar situation arose in the 1990s when then Himachal Pradesh Governor Gulsher Ahmed was found guilty of going against the Code by the EC because he campaigned for his son Sayeed Ahmad. Following EC’s verdict, Ahmed resigned.
Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap said there is nothing in law or in the Constitution which deals with such a situation like this but MHA may now consult the Law Ministry or the Attorney General to see what needs to be done. Although the President will take a final decision in the matter, MHA is the principal advisory ministry to the President. “Model Code of Conduct is basically for political parties and candidates. It does not apply to governors but there is an unwritten code which applies to governors, election commissioners etc that they are supposed to exercise considerable self-restraint and not comment on any political party, candidate or controversial political party oriented issues.” Sources said that if the President finds Singh guilty, Singh may resign, issue an apology or deny that he ever made the controversial statement.
On March 24, Kalyan Singh had called for PM Modi’s re-election “for the sake of the country”. Eighty-seven-year-old Singh was on camera saying this at his hometown Aligarh that PM Modi’s re-election is a necessity for the country and the society and every party member should work for it. “We are workers of BJP. Going by that, we definitely want the BJP to win. Everyone wants that once more, Modiji should become PM,” he had said. The BJP veteran and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh has been a Governor since 2014.