Arunachal Pradesh Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa said today that he would not resign despite being asked by the Centre to step down on medical grounds. Saying that he had been asked to vacate his post by August 31, Rajkhowa added, “…I want the President to dismiss me.”
The Indian Express had first reported on Saturday that Rajkhowa had been asked to put in his papers “on health grounds” — weeks after the Supreme Court restored the Congress government in the state and censured the Governor for “humiliating the elected government of the day”.
On Monday, talking to Guwahati-based TV channel DY365, the Governor said, “I will not resign. I want them to dismiss me… Let the President express his displeasure. Let the government use provisions of Article 156 of the Constitution.”
This provision specifies that “the Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President” and that the Governor may, “by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office.”
Rajkhowa said he was ready to vacate Raj Bhavan immediately if the order came. “I have kept all my belongings packed since August 30. I have also told my office that once the order (regarding the dismissal) arrives in Raj Bhavan, they should immediately inform me… I will not stay even one minute after that,” he said.
Rajkhowa, who is currently in Guwahati, acknowledged that he had been asked to put in his papers on health grounds but added that he would not do so “because I have fully recovered from my illness and I have been discharging my duties after complete recovery”.
“If they want me to quit, the prime minister and his cabinet will have to recommend the same to the President, who will then issue an order under specific provisions of the Constitution,” Rajkhowa said. “Even a fourth grade employee of the government has to be given in writing if the government wants him or her to resign or even go on leave. I am a Governor, and this a Constitutional post,” he said.
“I do not have a single blot in my long career in the government. The government must have appointed me as Governor on the basis of my spotless track record. I feel very humiliated. It was a bolt from the blue,” Rajkhowa said.
Rajkhowa said that a private individual from Guwahati had first informed him over telephone on August 27 that the government wants him to resign on health grounds.
“I was shocked, surprised and felt humiliated. I asked the person to inform whoever in the government wants me to quit, to call me directly. When there was no such call, I called up the Union Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) and asked if it was true or false,” Rajkhowa said.
“But the Home Minister clearly told me over telephone that he knew nothing about it. Instead, he started telling me that I was doing very good work in Arunachal Pradesh. But when I called up another minister at the Centre, he called me back on August 30 and said that a decision had been taking at a higher level for me to resign on health grounds.”
Rajkhowa said he told the other minister that he had returned after treatment 47 days ago, and that he had been at work since August 13. “I also told him that I am totally fit now. What is my fault that I have been asked to go on medical or health grounds?” he said.
The former Assam chief secretary, who took over as Governor in June 2015, said he never lobbied for the job. “I
never met or approached any BJP leader for the Governor’s post, whether at the local level or at that of the PM’s,” Rajkhowa said.
On July 13, the Supreme Court, while restoring the Congress government in the state, declared as “unconstitutional” the decision taken by Rajkhowa that first led to imposition of President’s rule and then formation of a new government led by a breakaway faction of the Congress.
A Governor can remain in office for five years but his term is subject to the “pleasure of the President” and, in this case, if President Pranab Mukherjee agrees with the advice of the Centre, Rajkhowa will have to go.