Assam’s new governor, Banwari Lal Purohit, 76, is a veteran politician from Vidarbha who was three times Lok Sabha member — twice from the Congress and once from the BJP. In 2007, he created a controversy when he claimed that he had arranged an hour-long meeting between then RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras and then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1989. Purohit’s claim was that Rajiv had forged a secret pact with the RSS to permit shilanyas and construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya in exchange for RSS support to the Congress in the 1989 elections.
In politics since 1977, Purohit was elected to the Maharashtra assembly on a Congress ticket in 1979 and 1980, after which the party sent him to the Lok Sabha twice (1984 and 1989). In 1991, when he was still a Congress MP, he reportedly took part in kar seva in Ayodhya, leading to his expulsion. The same year he fought unsuccessfully for the Lok Sabha on a BJP ticket. He won his next Lok Sabha election in 1996, but lost again in 2009.
The former MP is currently managing editor of Hitavada, an English daily founded by Gopal Krishna Gokhale in 1911. The newspaper, once owned by former Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla, was taken over by Purohit and Company in 1978.