Frenetic lobbying delays naming of governors

Four posts lie vacant as Alva's term also ends

Frenetic lobbying delays naming of governors

Frenetic lobbying by party veterans and top BJP leaders caught up in discussions on organisational reshuffle have delayed the naming of a fresh batch of Governors, including for Karnataka, by the Centre.

The fresh discussion on governors came up as Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva, who had held additional charge of Goa following B V Wanchoo’s resignation last month, demitted office as her term ended on Tuesday.

At present, four states—Karnataka, Tripura, Goa and Rajasthan—do not have full-time governors, and the BJP has not been able to finalise names, keeping hopes alive for a section of BJP veterans who are angling for gubernatorial posts.

The delay is raising questions, as the BJP-led NDA government was keen on getting rid of governors appointed by the previous UPA regime. But it cannot summarily sack them due to a 2010 Supreme Court verdict.

Though the name of Kerala leader O Rajagopal was finalised for Karnataka, the BJP put his appointment on hold when the first batch of five governors were named on July 14 as new claimants emerged. Another governor’s appointment (for Haryana) was made on July 25.

Sources said Rajagopal did not find his name in the list after Soli Sorabjee, Solicitor General during A B Vajpayee’s regime, whom the Narendra Modi government was keen to appoint as governor, preferred Karnataka. Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah has been holding additional charge of Karnataka since June 28, when H R Bhardwaj’s term ended.

Governors’ appointments may be further delayed as the BJP faces hectic days ahead. Its National Executive is scheduled for August 9 to ratify the appointment of new party president Amit Shah. Thereafter, top leaders will be busy in discussions with Shah to select his team of office-bearers.

Though the first batch of governors was appointed after Parliament session started, sources said the situation has changed, with top government leaders busy with legislative business.

Another problem faced by the leadership is the entry of new aspirants for gubernatorial posts. Besides Rajagopal, leaders who were initially considered were K Malhotra, Lalji Tandon, Kailash Joshi, and Shanta Kumar, among others.

While full-time governors were not appointed for these two states, a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said, Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik would now hold additional charge of Rajasthan while his Gujarat counterpart O P Kohli will oversee Goa.
Sources said the BJP would try to accommodate its senior leaders’ views first and then look at allies’ suggestions.

The government may also think of transferring Governors like Sheila Dikshit (Kerala) and K Sankaranarayanan (Maharashtra), who are playing the hard ball, to “insignificant states”. 

The BJP wanted the governors appointed by previous UPA regime to quit, but only former bureaucrats—M K Narayanan, Wanchoo, Shekhar Dutt and Ashwani Kumar—obliged.

Besides Naik and Kohli, the government had appointed B D Tandon (Chhattisgarh), Keshari Nath Tripathi ((West Bengal) and Padmanabha Acharya (Nagaland, additional charge of Tripura) on July 14. On July 25, it also appointed Kaptan Singh Solanki as the governor of Haryana. 

All those appointed by the BJP-led government have strong links with the RSS.Kamla Beniwal, who was at loggerheads with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was Gujarat chief minister, was transferred to Mizoram.

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