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Satya Pal Malik: Decoding the curious case of the Meghalaya Governor

Addressing a function at Kira village in Nuh a week ago, Malik slammed the Modi govt saying "MSP is not being implemented because the PM has a friend whose name is Adani, who at the moment has become Asia’s richest person in five years.”

Malik recently said that after completing his current tenure, he will “fully participate” in the fight for farmers’ rights. (Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi/File)

Meghalaya Governor Satya Pal Malik has been keeping his guns trained on the Narendra Modi government over the farmer issues for more than one year now. Curiously, the Centre has still chosen not to remove him so far.

Seeking to explain it, a senior Haryana BJP leader, on condition of anonymity, said, “A Jat leader from western Uttar Pradesh, Malik wants to emerge as a hero in the Jat community at this stage of his life by hitting out at the BJP-led Centre over farm issues. But the BJP dispensation doesn’t want to sack him as Governor and help him realise his wish. BJP has passion and patience. We have handled such personalities earlier too.”

Referring to Malik’s “annoyance” against the Modi regime, the BJP leader said: “As the Jammu and Kashmir Governor earlier, he was like its CM. But then he was shifted to Goa (in November 2019) as Governor that might have upset him. And his transfer from Goa to Meghalaya (in August 2020) was seen as his further demotion.”

On his part, Malik recently said that after completing his current tenure, he will “fully participate” in the fight for farmers’ rights. Addressing a function at Kira village in Nuh a week ago, he slammed the Modi government as he demanded the implementation and legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for farmers’ produce, asserting that the country’s farmers cannot be defeated and will continue to protest till their demands are met.

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“I want to tell you all that there will be another protest by farmers and when that happens, leave aside differences of caste and fight together. Do not think this is a protest of Sikhs or Jats. No government can defeat you if you learn to fight together. This is a fight for every farmer, their farms, produce, the price of crops…the farmers are suffering, their produce is becoming cheaper while manure and irrigation are getting costlier,” Malik told the gathering.

At the same event, the Meghalaya Governor also said: “The MSP is not being implemented because the Prime Minister has a friend whose name is Adani, who at the moment has become Asia’s richest person in five years.”

During the year-long farmer agitation against the now-repealed three controversial central farm laws, Malik had made headlines several times by gunning for the Modi government, which was said to have then boosted the morale of protesters camping on Delhi’s borders.

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In January this year, Malik alleged that PM Modi came across as “arrogant” when he met him to discuss the farmer stir and that he ended up having an argument with the latter. Addressing a social function at Haryana’s Dadri, Malik had then said: “When I went to meet the Prime Minister to discuss the farmer issue, I ended up fighting with him within five minutes. He was very arrogant. When I told him that 500 of our own (farmers) had died… he said, ‘Did they die for me?’ I told him yes, since you are the king. I ended up having an argument with him. He told me to meet Amit Shah and I did.”

Malik, 76, who hails from UP’s Baghpat, was a member of the UP Assembly during 1974-77. During 1980-86 and 1986-89, he represented UP in the Rajya Sabha. In 1989, he won the Lok Sabha election from Aligarh as a Janata Dal candidate. In 1990, he became the Union minister of state for parliamentary affairs and tourism.

In 2004, Malik joined the BJP and unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections, losing to the then RLD chief Ajit Singh.

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The Modi government appointed Malik as the Bihar Governor in October 2017 and transferred him to J&K in August 2018. During his J&K tenure, the Modi government scrapped Article 370 which granted a special status to the then state.

With Malik’s five-year term set to be completed in a couple of months, the BJP circles say he will not get another gubernatorial stint. A BJP leader said, “What bigger reward Malik would have got other than the governorship? He should have spoken only after tendering his resignation.” He also said, “Under the Constitution, the Governor is head of the state… It’s not a post of an employee who can be sacked anytime. Any action against the Governor would have its ramifications. Malik could have emerged as a ‘martyr’ if the Centre had resorted to firing him,” claiming that the BJP dispensation got Jagdeep Dhankar elected as the Vice-President “to woo the Jats”.

In political circles, Malik’s bid to fire salvos at the Modi dispensation at regular intervals is perceived as part of his attempts to remain relevant in politics after his superannuation from the Governor’s office.

At an event in Jaipur in November 2021, Malik had said that every time he spoke on the farmer issues, he had an apprehension for a couple of weeks that he might get a call from Delhi. Declaring that he met PM Modi over the farm laws issue, Malik said: “I was very hurt and angry and I met the Prime Minister and I told him that you are misreading the situation; these Sikhs cannot be defeated…nor can these Jats be defeated. You think that they (the farmers) will go away just like that; but give them something before sending them off, and don’t do two things: don’t use force on them, second, don’t send them empty-handed because they don’t forget, they don’t forget for a hundred years.”

An Independent MLA from Dadri, Sombir Sangwan, who is supporting the BJP-JJP government in Haryana, recalls how Satya Pal Malik learnt politics in the company of Chaudhary Charan Singh in UP. Sangwan says, “Narendra Modi made him Governor of Jammu and Kashmir because he is a strong person and is capable in taking decisions. He played a good role during the abrogation of Article 370.”

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However, Sangwan is miffed with Malik for not attending a panchayat of farmers in Haryana this year despite having “promised” it.

First published on: 30-08-2022 at 06:14:35 pm
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