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`Pressure’ on Governors to resign, protests Advani

Saturday 26 June 2004

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JUNE 26 . The leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh, met the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, today to protest against the manner in which the United Progressive Alliance Government was "pressuring" the Governors appointed by the Vajpayee Government to resign.

According to the BJP spokesperson, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, they pointed out to Dr. Singh that the NDA Government had retained the Governors appointed by the previous Governments. "We are of the view that the Government should stick to this healthy convention and strengthen federalism," he added.

However, according to Government and the Congress sources, Mr. Advani has no moral authority to protest against the proposed changes.

It is pointed out that Mr. Vajpayee was sworn in Prime Minister on March 19, 1998, and by April 15 the then Union Home Secretary, Balmiki Prasad Singh, was reported to have asked three Governors (in Gujarat, Goa and Mizoram) and three Lt. Governors (Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar and Pondicherry) to put in their papers.

The then Governor of Gujarat, Krishna Pal Singh, was quoted in The Hindu , dated April 15, 1998 as saying that the Union Home Secretary had informed him that it was the Centre’s "wish" that he resign. Nor was he given the option of transfer to another State. The BJP leadership had a score to settle with Mr. Singh for dismissing the Suresh Mehta Ministry (of the BJP).

While Mr. Singh was a political appointee, two other Governors who were asked to resign were bureaucrats. T.R. Satish Chandran, Governor of Goa, was a retired IAS officer and had served as Principal Secretary to the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda. The third "sacked" Governor, A.P. Mukherjee, was a distinguished IPS officer (retd.) and was adviser to Inderjit Gupta, Union Home Minister in the Gowda and I.K. Gujral Ministries. Similarly, the Lt. Governor of Delhi, Tejendra Khanna, was an experienced bureaucrat, having retired as the Commerce Secretary.

Apart from asking these six Governors and Lt. Governors to resign, the BJP-led Government also appointed new Governors in Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, where the term of the incumbents had expired. Consequently, the NDA appointed senior BJP and RSS leaders as Governors. In fact, intervening during the debate on the political resolution at the BJP’s National Council in Gandhinagar on May 4, 1998, Mr. Advani defended political appointments in gubernatorial positions, arguing that the party was never in agreement with the Sarkaria Commission’s recommendation on this point.

See online : The Hindu

P.S.

in The Hindu, Saturday, June 26, 2004.

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