Two days after the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) recorded his statement as a witness in the probe into kickbacks in the 2010 AgustaWestland chopper deal, M.K. Narayanan has resigned as Governor of West Bengal.
The first Governor to be questioned by an investigative agency, Mr Narayanan is the fourth Governor to resign following pressure from the BJP government on appointees of the UPA government. A formal acceptance of the resignation by the President is awaited.
The 80-year-old Narayanan, a former director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and National Security Adviser (NSA) in the first Manmohan Singh government, is considered close to the Congress and his tenure would have come to an end in January 2015.
As NSA, he had in 2005 participated in a meeting on the chopper deal. With Mr. Narayanan’s resignation, Goa Governor B.V. Wanchoo, who as chief of the Special Protection Group, had participated in the same meeting, will be under pressure to quit as the CBI will be examining him soon.
If Mr. Wanchoo resigns, there will be seven vacancies for Governors. Senior BJP leaders Kalyan Singh, V.K. Malhotra, Kailash Joshi, Kesri Nath Tripathi, Lalji Tandon, and Ram Naik are among the probable candidates to fill the slots.
Mr. Narayanan’s exit from the West Bengal Raj Bhavan is particularly important for the BJP that is planning a big push in the State, buoyed by the increase in its vote share to 16.8 per cent in May 2014 from six per cent in 2009.
After the parliamentary elections, political violence in the State increased and a BJP fact-finding team had blamed the ruling Trinamool Congress for this. Mr. Narayanan, whom State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee described on Monday as a “guardian and a well-wisher,” has been friendly to the State government. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjeee did not comment on the resignation. Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi had given a legal opinion that allowed the CBI to question a Governor while in office.