NATIONAL

Prabhat Kumar resigns as Governor

NEW DELHI, JAN. 31. The Jharkhand Governor, Prabhat Kumar, has finally sent in his resignation to the President. The resignation letter was brought in by the Governor's Secretary and hand-delivered to a Rashtrapati Bhavan official. The President, K.R. Narayanan, has forwarded it to the Prime Minister.

A formal announcement on accepting the resignation would be made tomorrow. The Bihar Governor, Vinod Pandey, is likely to officiate for Jharkhand as well for some time.

Mr. Kumar found himself embroiled in a controversy after the tainted businessman, Ashok Chaturvedi, alleged that when Mr. Kumar was Cabinet Secretary, he (Mr. Kumar) had accepted his hospitality on several occasions. A very serious view was taken of Mr. Kumar's indiscretions at the highest level in the Government.

Enough hints were dropped to the Governor that after Mr. Chaturvedi's allegations, his stay in the Ranchi Raj Bhavan had become untenable. But Mr. Kumar dragged his feet for some time. Finally, in the third week of January, he was told to go by January 31.

For most part of the day, officials of the Union Home Ministry kept waiting for a formal communication from the Governor. The day-long suspense notwithstanding, it is believed that Mr. Kumar had been firmly told that should his resignation fail to arrive by January 31, he would be unceremoniously sacked.

Mr. Kumar had little option but to comply with the Prime Minister's wishes. Atal Behari Vajpayee and his senior advisers were convinced that the Central Bureau of Investigation would have to question him about his defence in the Ashok Chaturvedi affair, but as long as he remained in the Raj Bhavan he could not be subjected to any kind of interrogation. The bureaucracy itself was unanimous that since Mr. Kumar committed all these indiscretions when he was Cabinet Secretary, he had compromised the moral authority of the gubernatorial office. In fact, at the last Governors' Conference, in July, 2000, the President had quoted Mahatma Gandhi that the Governors ``must be an all-pervasive moral influence in their provinces''.

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