SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI >  VOL. IV - SELECTED LETTERS > SECTION ONE : SELECTED LETTERS > Appendix I : Who should be provincial governors ?
Appendix I : Who should be provincial governors ?
The following is a free translation of Principal Shriman Narain Agarwal's letter in Hindustani from Wardha:
"In the Constitution that is being framed by the Constituent Assembly, there is to be provision for the election of provincial Governors by the majority of voters under the adult franchise system. From this one is entitled to infer that as a rule, the nominees of the Congress Parliamentary Board will be elected. The Chief Minister of the province will also be of the Congress Party. Commonsense dictates that the provincial Governor must be above the party politics of the province concerned, or above being unduly influenced by the Chief Minister or above friction between himself and his Chief Minister.
"In my opinion there is no necessity for a Governor. The Chief Minister should be able to take his place and people's money to the tune of Rs. 5,500 per month for the sinecure of the Governor will be saved. Nevertheless, no provincial Governor should belong to his own province.
"Moreover, in this way the expense and worry of an election by the majority of the adult population will be saved. Will it not be proper and better for the President of the Union to select Governors satisfying the reasonable test above suggested ? Such Governors will surely raise the tone of the public life of the provinces governed by them. It is worthy of note that the present Governors have been appointed by the Central Cabinet of the Union on the above basis and, therefore, their influence on their provinces has been wholesome. I fear that if the Governors are elected as threatened under the forthcoming Constitution, their influence is likely to be unwholesome.
"Further, the Constitution as foreshadowed makes no mention of the village panchayats being the foundation of the progressive decentralization in the place of the old hunger for centralization. There are other such defects which one can profitably point out, but I have no right or desire to enter into an elaborate criticism of our seasoned leaders. I have but ventured to draw your attention to the defects which have appeared to me and demand your guidance."
There is much to be said in favour of the argument advanced by Principal Agarwal about the appointment of provincial Governors. I must confess that I have not been able to follow the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly. I do not know the context in which the proposal under discussion has been made. But, examined in isolation, the criticism appears irresistible, with the exception that much as I would like to spare every piece of the public treasury, it would be bad economy to do away with provincial Governors and regard Chief Ministers as a perfect equivalent. Whilst I would resent much power of interference to be given to Governors, I do not think that they should be mere figure-heads.
They should have enough power enabling them to influence ministerial policy for the better. In their detached position they would be able to see things in their proper perspective and thus prevent mistakes by their Cabinets. Theirs must be an all-pervasive moral influence in their provinces.
Principal Agarwal says that there is no mention or direction about village panchayats and decentralization in the foreshadowed Constitution. It is certainly an omission calling for immediate attention if our independence is to reflect the people's voice. The greater the power of the panchayats, the better for the people. Moreover, panchayats to be effective and efficient, the level of people's education has to be considerably raised. I do not conceive the increase in the power of the people in military, but in moral terms. Naturally, I swear by Nayee Talim in this connection.
Hanjan, 21-12-'47, p. 473