Hours after he was transferred to Mizoram, Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan resigned on Sunday. He said the government has the “right” to transfer a Governor, while he has the right to decide “not to go”.
“The government has every right… the President of India has the right to transfer a Governor. There is nothing wrong in it. I am not questioning that right,” he told The Indian Express. “They have the right to transfer and I have the right not to go. So I have resigned,” he said.
“It is for you to decide whether it is a case of political vendetta or anything else. I don’t have any opinion. The people will have to decide. The media too has 100 per cent right to analyse all these things,” he said.
According to sources, Sankaranarayanan decided to resign almost immediately after Rashtrapati Bhawan issued the communique regarding his transfer post-midnight Saturday. However, he waited for the official presidential notification to reach Raj Bhawan.
“I am not interested in going to Mizoram. I have resigned, and shall now return to politics,” said the veteran 82-year-old Congress leader from Kerala. His tenure was set to end in 2017.
The Mizoram Governor’s post fell vacant after the Centre earlier sacked another Congress appointee, Kamla Beniwal, who shared an uneasy relationship with Modi during her previous stint as Gujarat Governor.
While he said he does not plan to challenge the transfer, Sankaranarayanan said he saw nothing wrong in Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi’s decision to approach the Supreme Court. “It is his fundamental right to go to the court,” he said.
Sankaranarayanan moved out of Raj Bhawan on Sunday evening, and is expected to head to Kerala on Monday.
Admitting that he felt hurt, he said, “Even politicians from the BJP and Shiv Sena know that I never let politics come in the way of exercising and upholding constitutional powers vested in me as Governor.”
He said he would speak further on the reasons behind his transfer and his decision to quit on Monday. “I am a common man now,” he remarked.
Sankaranarayanan was among the first batch of Congress-appointed Governors who were asked to quit after the Modi government took over. In June this year, he admitted that he had received two phone calls from Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami asking him to resign. But he had dug in his heels, mantaining that he would only consider quitting if asked by an “appropriate authority”.
While Gujarat Governor Om Prakash Kohli took additional charge as Maharashtra Governor on Sunday evening, sources said veteran BJP leaders Kalyan Singh, V K Malhotra, and Kailash Joshi were in the race for the post.
The abrupt transfer led to a political slugfest with the ruling Congress-NCP combine in Maharashtra targeting the BJP-led government at the Centre. While mantaining that the Centre had the power to replace Governors, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said, “What was not happening earlier is taking place now. We are worried about the kind of days that lie ahead of us.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said he was always mantained that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dictatorial tendencies.
State PCC chief Manikrao Thakre said Sankaranarayanan’s transfer was a case political vendetta. “Everybody knows that he never used the post to settle political scores. Yet, just before the assembly elections, he is transferred. This is nothing but an insult,” he said.
Countering these charges, state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said the Congress-NCP combine was “politicising an administrative decision.”
Barring a row that erupted following his decision to refuse sanction to CBI to prosecute former Maharashtra Chief Minister
Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh housing society case, Sankaranarayanan’s tenure in Maharashtra remained non-controversial.