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UP governor quits; BJP, Congress in row over gubernatorial changes

Posted on Jun 17 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, June 17 : Uttar Pradesh Governor B.L. Joshi resigned Tuesday, as the Narendra Modi government's apparent move to nudge some UPA-appointed governors to step down turned into a political confrontation, with the Congress terming the move "dictatorial" and "political vendetta".

Joshi Tuesday submitted his resignation to President Pranab Mukherjee, according to officials at Raj Bhavan in Lucknow.

Joshi sent his resignation a day after the central government sought that some governors resign.

Home Secretary Anil Goswami is understood to have called some governors, suggesting they resign. However, there was no official confirmation of his conversation, with home ministry officials neither affirming nor denying the development.

Among those who are understood to have been called are Kerala Governor Sheila Dikshit, Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan and West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan.

There is speculation that Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal and Nagaland Governor Ashwani Kumar also may be on their way out. Beniwal is understood to have had an uneasy relationship with Modi when he was Gujarat chief minister.

According to sources, the governors who are nearly completing their terms, including Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva, may not be asked to resign.

While Bhardwaj's term is to end this month, Alva will complete her term in August. Both are former union ministers.

Bhardwaj, who was in the capital, said he would leave office if his replacement is announced.

Assam Governor J.B. Patnaik, who was also in the capital and met President Pranab Mukherjee, scotched speculation that he has resigned.

"Why should I resign? What is the reason?" he shot back at persistent queries from media persons.

"I have not resigned. A governor usually meets the president," he said.

Meanwhile, Dikshit, a former chief minister of Delhi who was appointed Kerala governor earlier this year, declined to comment on "rumours".

Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva met Modi, which was described as a "courtesy call" by officials.

However, the Congress Tuesday termed as "dictatorial" the BJP-led government's bid to move out governors of some states, saying it was against the very grain of democratic traditions and constitutional propriety.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said the National Democratic Alliance was indulging in political vendetta instead of fulfilling its promises.

"The move, if at all taken forward, will be fraught with serious repercussions and that will have a debilitating impact on our constitutional democracy," Azad said.

Referring to the May 2010 judgment of the Supreme Court, Azad said the union government does not have the brief to remove the governors "in arbitrary and capricious manner with the change of power".

The apex court had ruled that a governor cannot be removed on the ground that he is out of sync with the policies and ideologies of the union government or the party in power at the centre.

However, BJP leaders defended the government's reported move to ask some governors appointed by the Congress-led government to resign.

Party leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said governors resigning after change of the government was not new.

He said the UPA government had in 2004 replaced some governors appointed by the previous NDA government.

Rudy said that then governors Vishnukant Shastri (Uttar Pradesh), Kailashpati Mishra (Gujarat) and Kedarnath Sahni (Goa) were among those removed by the UPA government.

"I don't think there is scope for politicisation," he said.

BJP parliamentarian Prabhat Jha said the governors should have resigned on their own after change of the government.

B.L. Joshi, 78, who quit Tuesday, was Uttar Pradesh governor since 2009 and enjoyed a good relationship with two successive chief ministers, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav.

He was re-appointed governor in March this year.

Joshi, a former Indian Police Service officer, had also served as Lt. Governor of Delhi between 2004 and 2007 and was also governor of Meghalaya and Uttarakhand before being shifted to Uttar Pradesh.

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