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Govt rips governor row veil
- Patil says ideology a reason; Atal cries foul

New Delhi, July 3: The government has disclosed for the first time in public that an ideological division was behind the sacking of the four governors, but took care to stress that it was only one of the reasons.

However, led by an outburst from former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Opposition virtually ruled out a rapprochement in the budget session, raising the spectre of boycotts and repeated adjournments.

Vajpayee told reporters in Lucknow that home minister Shivraj Patil should either deny that the governors were sacked for their RSS links or “apologise” to the Sangh for using it as an alibi. He called the move a “big blow to democracy”.

BJP spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: “One can infer from the recent developments that the government is taunting the Opposition and creating a situation in which smooth functioning of Parliament will not be possible.”

But Patil brushed aside the criticism, saying the sacked governors had no place under a government that had a “different ideology”.

“They were from a particular ideology and may not have adjusted to the changed circumstances.... An ideology different from ours (the United Progressive Alliance government),” he told a news conference.

But he added that ideology was only one of the factors for yesterday’s removal of Vishnu Kant Shastri (governor of Uttar Pradesh), Kailashpati Mishra (Gujarat), Babu Parmanand (Haryana) and Kidar Nath Sahni (Goa).

Yesterday, the Congress had claimed that the continuation of the four governors in office had become untenable after they started taking instructions from their political masters in the BJP.

The formal appointment of the new governors is expected to take three to four days. Sources said former Bengal governor T.V. Rajeshwar is tipped to become governor of Uttar Pradesh, senior Congress leader Nawal Kishore Sharma of Gujarat, A.R. Kidwai of Haryana and former Nagaland chief minister S.C. Jamir governor of Goa.

Rajeshwar’s arrival in Lucknow may not be good news for chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav who is sensing pressure on his government because of the growing bitterness between his Samajwadi Party and the Congress. Mulayam had established a good rapport with Shastri.

Patil indicated that the dismissal of the governors was a “precautionary measure” in states like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat where “complications” had arisen in the past. The home minister did not specify, but another leader in the Congress-led government suggested that Patil could have been referring to the Gujarat riots when he spoke about complications.

Even as Gujarat convulsed at the height of the post-Godhra riots, Raj Bhavan had not sent any report to the Centre that gave a true picture of the situation. “Every government would like a governor who is conversant with their approach, views and requirements. Most of all, whose word the central government can take at its face value,” the leader said.

Sources said to avoid giving a confrontationist colour to the move, Patil spoke to L.K. Advani, the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, on Thursday in a last attempt to secure the resignations of the four governors. Seemingly, the BJP leader preferred their recall to voluntary resignations.

Patil brushed aside the BJP’s criticism that decisions like sacking of the governors would affect federalism. He contended that governors worked at the “pleasure” of the President and were not elected. They were not removed because of any ill will, Patil said.

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