Indicating that the BJP government wants Governors appointed by the UPA to step down, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said had he been in their place he would have stepped down immediately. This came on a day Uttar Pradesh Governor B L Joshi’s resignation was accepted, triggering speculation that more Governors appointed by the previous government were likely to go in the coming days.
On being asked if the UPA-appointed Governors should step down, Singh said, “If I had been in their place, I would have stepped down.” A spokesperson for Singh later tried to play down the remark, saying it has been quoted out of the context.
Senior BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said there was nothing wrong if the Governors appointed by the previous government are asked to resign. “This is is not a new tradition. When UPA government came to power in 2004, they had also asked for resignations of the Governors appointed by the NDA Government,” ANI quoted Rudy as saying. “I think this tradition should be accepted as it is in accordance with all the democratic procedures and rules.”
The Home Minister also confirmed that the government had received Joshi’s resignation. Home Ministry officials said Joshi’s resignation was forwarded to the PMO and accepted later in the day. Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi will hold additional charge of the state for now.
The presence of at least three Governors appointed by the UPA in Delhi fuelled speculation of more resignations. However, Home Ministry officials denied reports that any other Governor had resigned.
While Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva’s meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi was described as a “courtesy call”, Assam Governor J B Patnaik and Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj, after separate meetings with President Pranab Mukherjee, dismissed reports that they were resigning.
President’s Press Secretary Venu Rajamony said, “I have no information on any of the Governors have resigned so far.”
The Indian Express on June 6 first reported that the Prime Minister’s Office has sought details of eight Governors who are set to complete their tenure in coming months. The list provided by the Home Ministry included the names of Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal, who had had run-ins with Modi in his previous capacity as chief minister. She is likely to retire by November this year.
Among the other names were Bhardwaj, who will complete his term by the end of this month, Haryana Governor Jagannath Pahadia, Chhattisgarh Governor Shekhar Dutt, Assam Governor J B Patnaik, and Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil. The names in the list were associated with Congress in various roles during their active years of politics.
Home Ministry sources said the list submitted to the PMO does not include bureaucrats and former Army officers who were appointed as Governors by the UPA as they were asked to give details of only “political” appointments.
Meanwhile, in a move being described as an attempt to secure the confidence of those demitting office, the Home Ministry in a communication to states has reiterated that “courtesies” be extended to former governors. The ministry has asked the states to “appoint a liaison officer” to help the former governors “in consideration of the distinguished positions held by them”.
The circular, which was re-issued last week, reads, “…Subsequent to their demitting office, the Governors may at times, enter public life again and many of them lead quiet lives… former Governor resident in the state/UT may be invited to the state functions and when they are invited, they may be received with due courtesy and seated appropriately. An officer may be designated for the ex-governors to contact in regards to their needs.”
Classified under the circulars for former governors, the instructions further reads, “In consideration of the distinguished position held by them and sometimes their advanced age, a liaison officer may be provided to contact them in advance and to receive them, be with them during the function and then see them off. Similarly, ex-governors visiting government hospitals and other public places for various needs from time to time may be given due consideration.”
At the conference of Governors in New Delhi in February last year, several Governors had complained that they were not given proper treatment at public places like airports and hospital following which the ministry had first issued the circular.