Arrangements are being made for Aziz Qureshi to be sworn in as Mizoram’s sixth governor in six months on January 9, but a sense of unease remains in the minds of politicians and civil society leaders, who are not entirely convinced about the reasons for his transfer from Dehradun to Aizawl.
“The state was disrespected by being given five governors in two-and-a-half months. Like the others, Qureshi is not really being transferred here to be the governor. They want him to quit but dare not fire him, so they are sending him here in the hope he quits on his own. So for us, it is difficult to accept his transfer happily,” said Lal Duhawma, president of the Zoram Nationalist Party.
But Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla said this time, things will be different. “He’s most welcome. He will be staying longer than the others. He was the main person who took the government to court over governors being asked to resign or transferred, but even then they have not dared to fire him, so that shows he is very significant.”
The state has, for the past half a year, been caught in an apparent row between the Narendra Modi government and several governors appointed by the previous UPA government.
The saga began in early July when the then governor of Mizoram Vakkom B Purushothaman quit in protest after he was transferred to Nagaland, saying he had not been consulted and “governors cannot be treated like clerks”.
Former Gujarat governor Kamla Beniwal was then transferred to Mizoram but she was removed by Rashtrapati Bhavan within a month on corruption charges and amid allegations that she spent just one day in Mizoram.
Former Maharashtra governor K Sankaranarayanan was then appointed governor of Mizoram, but he refused to take charge and quit soon after his transfer on August 24.
V K Duggal, who was the then Manipur governor, took additional charge of Mizoram. But he too quit in September. K K Paul, the then governor of Meghalaya, was given additional charge of both Mizoram and Manipur until his transfer orders were issued on December 30 along with Qureshi’s.
The quick succession of appointments and rejections has led to outrage in Mizoram, with politicians, civil society members and student unions alleging the state is being used as a “dumping ground”.
Former MP and current Leader of Opposition Vanlalzawma recalled a meeting he and former CM Zoramthanga had with Arun Jaitley last year, when they asked the BJP leader if Mizoram could not be given a full-time governor.
“Jaitley smiled and said, ‘They seem to be using your state as a punishment post, isn’t it?’” Vanlalzawma claimed, adding that he would first like to see if Qureshi comes to Aizawl at all.
“It is not Qureshi I am commenting on, but the situation. It is not something we can be happy about,” he said.
Lalbiakzuala, president of Mizoram’s largest civil society group, the Young Mizo Association, said the state deserves a governor who will work for its people, and preferably someone who will “understand and empathise with our culture and way of life”.
Lalhmachhuana, president of the Mizo Zirlai Pawl, the state’s largest students’ union, said, “We deserve and expect a governor who will work for the state for a full term. We used to have extremely competent governors earlier who understood the way of life here, and we should get such governors again.”