Modi govt wants UPA-appointed governors out

B L Joshi in UP resigns; Cong fumes
Last Updated 17 June 2014, 20:37 IST

Changing its stand on dealing with incumbents in Raj Bhavans, the Narendra Modi government has now signalled the exit sign for around half a dozen governors appointed by the previous UPA government, a move that could end up in a political collision with the Congress.

While Uttar Pradesh Governor B L Joshi, a former IPS officer, sent in his resignation taking the cue from a phone call coming from Home Secretary Anil Goswami, seniors like Sheila Dikshit (Kerala), H R Bhardwaj (Karnataka) and J B Patnaik (Assam) appear to be not in a mood to give up without a fight.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan communiqué said the President has accepted Joshi’s resignation forwarded by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), and given Uttarakhand Governor Dr Aziz Qureshi additional charge of Uttar Pradesh. 

Initially, the government was of the view that governors whose tenures were ending soon should be allowed to complete their terms, while nudging those who have more than two years left in office to quit. 

However, there was a sudden change of mind, and Goswami was tasked to speak to around 12 governors and convey the government’s desire that they step down, a move that the Congress and other parties termed as “unconstitutional and unethical”.

The thinking in the government was made clear by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. He said, “If I were in their position, I would have quit a long time ago.” 

BJP general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy made a reference to the 2004 experience when UPA dismissed four governors appointed by the NDA government. 

He said that political propriety demanded that governors resign.

BJP leader Sudhanshu Mittal alleged on Twitter that governors like Bhardwaj and Kamla Beniwal (Gujarat) were taking orders from Sonia Gandhi and following an anti-Modi agenda. 

Ajay Maken, Chairman of Congress Communication Department, attacked the government saying the move smacked of “political vendetta” and that the “dictatorial” step will have “serious repercussions”.

As the NDA government appeared to move ahead with its plan to oust them, Alva, Patnaik and Bhardwaj met the President on Tuesday. Alva also called on Modi, a meeting that was termed as “courtesy call” by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Bhardwaj’s term is ending in 12 days, while Alva’s tenure is till the first week of August and Patnaik until December. All these governors have declined to resign saying reports about them quitting were rumours. “I don’t want to react to rumours,” Dikshit said in Thiruvananthapuram while Bharadwaj said, “No one asked me for it (resignation) and I won’t resign.” Patnaik said, “I have not resigned, who has created this news? Do you meet the President only when you have to resign?”

Other Governors, political appointees who are reportedly on the chopping block include Kamla Beniwal (Gujarat), Shivraj Patil (Punjab), M K Narayanan (West Bengal), K Sankaranarayanan (Maharashtra), B V Wanchoo (Goa) and Ashwani Kumar (Nagaland).

 Narayanan, whose term ends in January 2015, and Wanchoo, who has another three years left in office, are reportedly facing the axe due to the CBI plans to question them in AgustaWestland chopper case. 

Dikshit, who was appointed Kerala Governor this March, has reportedly refused to quit following which government is mulling options of transferring her to a “politically insignificant” state, sources said. Modi, however, is not after all governors appointed by Congress, as he has asked E S L Narasimhan, a former Intelligence Bureau director appointed by the UPA, to handle both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states.
(Published 17 June 2014, 20:35 IST)

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