Thursday, January 26, 2017
Sixty-seven years ago, it was on this day that India formally declared itself to be a republic, with the constitution that had been adopted exactly two months before coming into force. The choice of this date is significant; between 1930, when the Indian National Congress 'officially' promulgated India's independence and 1947, when the country was actually granted independence (and Dominion status), January 26 was celebrated as Purna Swaraj Divas. With the Constitution of India coming into effect in 1950, the monarch of Britain ceased to be the Head of State and that power transferred to the President of India. That structure is replicated in each state of the Union of India. Part VI of the Constitution deals with the States, with Article 153 creating the position of Governor and Article 154 invests in him the executive power of the State, with a Council of Ministers to "aid and advise" the Governor. The position is something of an anomaly in that the people of the state have little say in who their Governor should be; a person is appointed to hold that post at the pleasure of the President of India.
Tamil Nadu has been without a full-time Governor since August 31, 2016; the Governor of Maharashtra holds this position as an additional charge. It is not the first time this has happened, but on both the earlier occasions, it was the Governor of Andhra Pradesh who also played the role of Tamil Nadu's Governor. The first such was when Krishan Kant took charge for 55 days and the next was C. Rangarajan, who had a longer stint of six-and-a-half months. On neither occasion, however, did Tamil Nadu have to deviate from the practice of the Governor taking the salute at the State's Republic Day parade - it came very close to that in 1997, but Krishan Kant handed over charge to Fatima Beevi on January 25, ensuring that protocol was intact. This year has been the first time in Tamil Nadu that the Chief Minister takes the salute.
What does all this have to do with the picture for the day? Not much, really. Except that I had seen two former Governors of West Bengal at The Hindu's LitForLife a few days ago; that got me thinking about why there has been such tardiness at finding a Governor for Tamil Nadu. Not that I have any answers for it, of course!