Himachal Diary

Raj Bhawan versus government in HP!

By Jasjeet Singh

August 01, 2016

A silent conflict is brewing in Himachal Pradesh… And it seems Chief Minister; Virbhadra Singh is not the one to take it lying down on certain things, even as it may concern the Raj Bhawan’s stance. The case in point is of Himachal Pradesh Sports (Registration, Recognition and Regulation of Associations) Bill 2015, which is pending Governor’s approval over last year. The Bill, which was aimed at regulating the sports bodies in the state, was passed by the Himachal assembly on April last year and sent to the then Governor, Kalyan Singh for assent. Singh did not take the call on it. Devvrat was appointed as HP Governor in August last and he too has remained silent on the Bill, neither rejecting it, nor giving assent.

The Chief Minister, who has been openly been expressing concern over the delay in assent to the Bill, brought it to the notice of the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee during a meeting in Delhi last week. Virbhadra Singh told media that the government would table fresh Sports Bill in Monsoon session of the assembly, in case there is no decision by Devvrat. “It has become all the more imperative to have the Sports Bill enacted in the state as it is completely in line with the Lodha Committee recommendations on sports bodies,” Virbhadra Singh told reporters here.

There is much between the lines here as the Bill was passed amid stiff opposition by the BJP in the assembly, which dubbed it as a ‘political move’, alleging that the government wanted to gain control over Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) run by BJP MP, Anurag Thakur. The BJP leaders had even met the Governor and had briefed him about their view point on the Bill. The government had, however, rejected this thought and had said that the Bill was to ensure transparent and democratic functioning of all the 42 sports bodies in the state, which was very much in the interest of sports and sports persons.

All said and done, it is not for the first time that there is bitterness between the Raj Bhawan and the state government. It all started, when Governor, who happens to be former Principal of Gurukul in Kurukshetra earlier and has a pro-active approach in resolving issues, had taken the lead on certain social issues, including drug addiction among youth in the state in November last year. Devvrat had called a meeting of the state high ups, showing concern over his four point agenda- which, along with drugs, included organic farming among others.

The officers did go to Raj Bhawan only to see the Governor taking up issues directly with them, often in aggressive mode, in front of media in the daylong meeting. Devvrat said he would seek periodical reports on progress from the state officers on all those issues and that he would hold regular meetings with them. But it was not to be. It turned out to be the first and the last meeting of the Governor with the officers in Raj Bhawan in that context. The Governor’s move met strong opposition in the state government corridors, as the political bosses did not like the direct approach. “The Raj Bhawan works in a set protocol and it has defined functions,” said some politicians in hushed tones then.Even after that, the Governor tried to carry forward his agendas with the people in field, albeit indirectly.

The appointment of Vice Chancellors in Palampur Agriculture University and the Horticulture and Forestry University, Solan is another issue, which has cropped up lately. While the government was initially interested to give extension to the two VCs appointed three years ago, the Governor, who also happens to be the Chancellor of the state varsities, showed a cold response, so the search for the new VCs is now going on. A tug of war is likely in the choices for the two, once again, as many believe that the applicants with RSS links, may push their cases forcefully, given the backdrop.