It was an embarrassing moment for the Narendra Modi government that has asked many Congress-appointed governors indirectly to quit or plucked loopholes in their activities to show the door.
But when the Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre on Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi’s plea, Home Minister Rajnath Singh was quick enough to say on Friday that the governor was not asked to move. He also said an appropriate reply will be sent to the Supreme Court on the petition.
Speaking to PTI after touring flood-affected Uttar Pradesh, Rajnath Singh said, “There was no move to remove him. He holds the Constitutional post with the pleasure of the President.”
But the controversy is unlikely to die down as the UPA-appointed Governors are under pressure to move out giving enough room for BJP loyalists joining the Raj Bhavans. But the apex court’s notice is likely to put a halt to the rush to remove governors for now but the major question remains as to the privilege of every new government to appoint its own governors.
Even when the UPA government came to power in 2004, few governors were asked to move out or hinted to quit indirectly paving the way for veteran Congress leaders to move into plush Raj Bhavans in the country.
While the Government is preparing to give an “appropriate reply to the Supreme Court” over the issue pertaining to Aziz’s petition, the instance of removal of Mizoram Governor 87-year-old Kamla Beniwal, who had served in Gujarat and had a running battle with Narendra Modi when he was the state Chief Minister, would come into focus.
Similarly, Virendra Kataria, a former Congress leader, was removed as Puducherry Lt Governor in July, while four others — MK Narayanan of West Bengal, Ashwani Kumar of Nagaland, BL Joshi of UP and Shekhar Dutt of Chhattisgarh – had put in their papers when they received calls from the Union Home Secretary.
The Congress, especially its former law ministers Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid say the Home Secretary’s call to the Governor was unconstitutional as he would serve his five-year tem under the Constitution at the pleasure of the President, under Article 156 pertaining to the term of office of Governor.