U.P. Governor Joshi resigns; NDA-Congress confrontation likely

With several Congress appointees in no hurry to step down as Governors, the NDA government’s attempts to have its own nominees in Raj Bhavans could lead to a full-blown confrontation with the principal Opposition party.

Uttar Pradesh Governor B.L. Joshi resigned on Tuesday, taking the hint from the Union government, but the Governors of Kerala (Sheila Dikshit), Assam (J.B. Patnaik) and Karnataka (H.R. Bhardwaj) made it clear that they would not quit.

Mr. Patnaik and Mr. Bhardwaj, who met President Pranab Mukherjee, asserted that they were not resigning. “If there is a rumour about my resignation, I cannot help it,” Mr. Patnaik said. Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi has been given additional charge of Uttar Pradesh.

On Tuesday, Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and later met the President. Her term ends in August. The PMO described the meeting as a “courtesy call.”

While BJP sources maintained that the Governors appointed by the previous government must quit, or face the possibility of being removed or transferred, the Congress cited a 2010 Supreme Court judgment that said the Centre had no powers to sack them without “compelling” reasons.

Though there was no official word, Home Ministry sources said other Governors who may face the axe include M.K. Narayanan (West Bengal) and Kamla Beniwal (Gujarat). Delhi’s Lt. Governor Najib Jung may be transferred.

Sources said Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami had called up some Governors and conveyed the government’s desire that they step down.

Vendetta

The Congress said that the NDA government was indulging in “political vendetta” by asking Governors appointed by the UPA government to resign. The “dictatorial step” would have “serious repercussions.” The CPI(M) called it “unconstitutional” and “unethical.” The BJP shot back saying the UPA government in 2004 had done precisely the same by removing four Governors appointed by the Vajpayee government.

Not an easy task for NDA govt.

The National Democratic Alliance government’s attempts to sack Governors may not be easy and the Centre may have to wait for the end of tenure in some cases, or transfer some of them to less significant States.

As many of the Governors were appointed soon after the UPA-II came to power in 2009, their term will end this year but a few such as Kerala Governor Sheila Dikshit have a long time to go.

The BJP recently demanded the recall of Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan as he had denied permission to the CBI to prosecute the former Maharashtra Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, in the Adarsh housing society scam.

In 2004, the UPA government sacked four Governors appointed by the previous BJP-led government which was disapproved of by the apex court in 2010. Those removed by the UPA government included Vishnu Kant Shastri (U.P.), Kailashpati Mishra (Gujarat), Babu Parmanand (Haryana) and Kidar Nath Sahani (Goa).

(With additional reporting by Smita Gupta and Smriti Kak Ramachandran)

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