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Governor appointments set stage for Cabinet reshuffle; minister Gehlot sent to Karnataka

Though sources in the government described the appointments and transfers of governors as routine ― given that a number of posts have been lying vacant and many governors have been in charge of more than one state ― the move assumes significance as it comes amid the much-anticipated Cabinet reshuffle.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi |
Updated: July 7, 2021 7:34:19 am
Among the new appointments, politically, the most significant is that of Gehlot to the Karnataka Raj Bhavan.

Ahead of a likely expansion of the Union Council of Ministers — which is expected to be held Wednesday evening — senior Cabinet Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot was appointed Governor of Karnataka, replacing Vajubhai Vala.

Besides Gehlot, a BJP veteran with an RSS background and a prominent Dalit face in the party, the other new gubernatorial appointments are that of former Lok Sabha MP Hari Babu Kambhampati as governor of Mizoram; Mangubhai Chhaganbhai Patel, a tribal leader from Gujarat who is set to go to Madhya Pradesh; and former Goa speaker Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar, who will be Governor of Himachal Pradesh.

Ramesh Bais, Governor of Tripura, has been transferred to Jharkhand, an Opposition-ruled state; Satyadev Narayan Arya has been moved from Haryana to Tripura; former Kerala BJP chief P S Sreedharan Pillai will move from Mizoram to Goa; and Bandaru Dattatraya, Governor of Himachal Pradesh, has been sent to Haryana.

Though sources in the government described the appointments and transfers of governors as routine ― given that a number of posts have been lying vacant and many governors have been in charge of more than one state ― the move assumes significance as it comes amid the much-anticipated Cabinet reshuffle.

Among the new appointments, politically, the most significant is that of Gehlot to the Karnataka Raj Bhavan. With Gehlot taking up a constitutional post, four key posts are now up for grabs – besides a Cabinet berth in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, that of the Leader of Upper House, a Rajya Sabha seat, and a slot in the parliamentary board of the BJP, the party’s apex decision-making body.

With Parliament’s monsoon session beginning on July 19, the party will have to choose a senior leader to replace Gehlot as the leader of Rajya Sabha. While deputy leader Piyush Goyal has a chance, the other names doing the rounds are that of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and senior minister Prakash Javadekar.

As the party prepares for key elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur and Gujarat next year, the top leadership will have to fill in vacancies in its Parliamentary Board.

Besides the seat left vacant by Gehlot’s departure to Karnataka, the posts vacated by M Venkaiah Naidu, when he became Vice President in 2017; and by late leaders Ananth Kumar, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley; are yet to be filled up.

Ahead of elections to the Gujarat Assembly next year, the elevation of a senior tribal leader, Mangubhai Patel, to the governor’s post is seen as politically significant as the tribal population constitutes a key support base for the BJP in the state.

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