‘It was a political decision guided by the high command of the party’

The BJP’s decision to ask D.V. Sadananda Gowda to quit after 11 months of “clean administration” and the inclusion of tainted MLAs in the Ministry have disconcerted Governor H.R. Bhardwaj. However, he has resolved to cooperate with the government in the hope that Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar “carries on the good work” of his predecessor.

In a freewheeling conversation with the media on the sidelines of a function at the Raj Bhavan here on Friday, the Governor said his advice to drop tainted Ministers from the Cabinet was not heeded.

“There should have been an effort to clean up [administration], which has not happened. There are still people in the government who have tainted records, who have court cases. The country cannot afford this,” he said. “I can always guide, advice and suggest, but ultimately the governance is theirs,” he said. It was a political decision guided by the high command of the party, and it was not for him to intervene, he added.

The Governor was generous in his praise of Mr. Sadananda Gowda’s work as Chief Minister. He was “completely satisfied” with the former Chief Minister’s effort to “slowly and steadily” clean up administration “in right earnest”. Refusing to “speak adversely” on the new Chief Minister and his Cabinet, the Governor said, “My sincere desire is that he should carry on the good work.”

On yet another wave of dissent that had erupted in the BJP even as Mr. Shettar was taking oath, he said that the Cabinet had included a “broad spectrum” and the new Chief Minister would know how to handle it as an “educated man and a lawyer”.

The Governor said that his first advice to Mr. Shettar was on tackling the drought situation in the State. “I reminded him during oath-taking that he should take up drought relief work immediately,” he said. The Union government had responded positively to the demand for relief funds, he added.

About the appointment of a Lokayukta, Mr. Bhardwaj said that at the heart of the problem was the fact that “nobody wants to face a Lokayukta now” and they were “scared of appointing” someone to the office. “The whole problem started with the Lokayukta issue.”

The Governor said that it was not difficult to find a candidate fit for the post if the government did not “go for this caste and that caste”. He said that he had no expectations on the issue of the appointment of the Lokayukta. “In a democracy, people judge the decisions,” he said.

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