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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 18, 19, April 29 & May 6, 2023 (Double issue)

The Saga of Satya Pal Malik | Arup Kumar Sen

Saturday 29 April 2023, by Arup Kumar Sen


by Arup Kumar Sen

Whatever may be the rights and obligations of the governor prescribed in the Indian Constitution, post-colonial India has a long tradition of governors acting uncritically according to the will of the central government. There are plenty of such instances. Satya Pal Malik is no exception in this regard. Manu Sebastian of Live law observed in November 2018: “After Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Karnataka, yet another instance of abuse of Constitutional power by a Governor occurred this week, when Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Satya Pal Malik decided to dissolve JK assembly. J&K has been under Presidential rule since last June, after BJP withdrew from PDP-led coalition government, putting end to an alliance forged in December 2014” (Live Law, November 24, 2018). Malik’s decision to dissolve the J&K assembly had a political context. To put it in the words of The Indian Express (November 22, 2018): “Malik moved shortly after PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti staked claim to form a government with the support of the National Conference and Congress — she cited a collective strength of 56 MLAs in the 87-member House”.

Very recently, the CBI has issued a summons to former Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik to seek “clarifications” in connection with an alleged health insurance scam in the Union territory. This happened in the wake of Malik’s recent interview to journalist Karan Thapar “that raised several grave questions about the Pulwama terror attack” (See The Telegraph, April 22, 2023). The Union home minister, Amit Shah, clarified that the recent CBI summons was not linked to Malik’s critical comments on the BJP government’s behaviour and actions before Pulwama attack in 2019. However, Shah questioned why Malik had “remained silent” while he was in office. (See The Wire, April 23, 2023)

The saga of Satya Pal Malik testifies that even the old loyalists are not spared by the BJP government in power once they start raising their dissident voices.

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