Millennium Post

As Cong guvs count days, stubborn Sheila holds on

As Cong guvs count days, stubborn Sheila holds on
Despite union home minister Rajnath Singh indicating that persons appointed to gubernatorial positions during the previous UPA-regime should resign, the Raj Bhawan incumbents held fast to their positions with just Uttar Pradesh governor BL Joshi putting in his papers. Having finished his term, Joshi in any case was on extension and his replacement was imminent. Following reports appearing in a section of media about the move to replace the governors, Singh tweeted on Tuesday, ‘If I were in their place, I would have resigned.’ The home minister so far has been obliged by just Joshi.

Following Singh’s tweet, the Capital remained agog with speculations on who all were resigning. Conjecture intensified when the news of Karnataka governor H R Bhardawaj and Assam governor JB Patnaik holding discussion with President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday emerged. Both the governors are known to be close to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi. Later in the day both Bhardwaj and Patnaik ‘scotched’ the rumuours.  Speaking to the media persons Patnaik claimed that he has not resigned. ‘If there is a rumour, I cannot help,’ he said. Karnataka governor too rubbished the news of his resignation as rumour and said, ‘No one asked me for it and I won’t resign. Meeting with the President was just a courtesy call.’

According to sources in North Block, 12 governors have been short-listed for replacement. Rajasthan governor Margaret Alva, whose also features in the list, incidentally called on PM Narendra Modi on Tuesday but avoided media and refused to comment on the issue. Sources said former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, who is presently the governor of Kerala, and Punjab governor Shivraj Patil are also in the line of fire.

‘I can’t react to rumours,’ Dikshit said while speaking to the reporters. She became the governor of Kerala, hours before the code of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls came into vogue. Reacting strongly over government’s decision, her son and Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit said, ‘Who is the home secretary to call a governor (asking to resign)? Governors are constitutional posts. There is a Supreme Court ruling that governors can’t be removed on whims and caprice.’ Later in the evening, the Congress headquarters mailed the Supreme Court judgment in BP Singhal versus Government of India, following which removal of governors has not remained ‘mere pleasure of president.’ Singhal was a BJP MP who had gone to court against the UPA order of 2004 to remove governors appointed during preceding NDA regime.   

However, sources in government said, that in case the home minister’s nudging did not work, the government could prepare cases especially against those whose names have surfaced in various scams during the UPA regime. This includes BV Wanchoo (Goa), MK Narayanan (West Bengal) and Sheila Dikshit (Kerala). Sources said the new government has created two categories for the governors. Those who have more than two years left in office would exit, while seven others who have nearly completed their terms will be spared. On the other hand, the move drew sharp criticism from Opposition leaders calling it politically incorrect and violating the 2010 Supreme Court order, which forbids the dismissal of governors ‘in an arbitrary and capricious manner with the change of power.’ Reacting over Uttar Pradesh governor’s resignation, an angry Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal said, ‘The country is not the property of any party.’
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