New Delhi, June 21: Several of the governors the Narendra Modi government is not averse to replacing, including Bengal’s M.K. Narayanan, have indicated their willingness to resign, Union home ministry sources today claimed.
“The West Bengal governor indicated in a letter to the minister (Rajnath Singh) this week that he would take a few days to wind up before he resigns,” a source told The Telegraph.
Maharashtra governor K. Sankaranarayanan and Tamil Nadu governor K. Rosaiah too have said they are willing to resign, the sources added.
Another government source said that all the governors and lieutenant governors that sections in the new dispensation wanted out were expected to resign. The government is understood to be finalising a list of replacements.
The government wants to retain just two: E.S.L. Narasimhan, who is governor of both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and Kamla Beniwal of Gujarat who had several run-ins with Modi when he was chief minister.
Sankaranarayanan had said Union home secretary Anil Goswami had called him twice. Narayanan is also said to be among those who received calls from the official. Government sources today suggested the number of governors Goswami had called, apparently to convey that the Centre would not be unhappy if they resigned, could be higher and rather “substantial”.
Two governors have resigned: B.L. Joshi of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday and Chhattisgarh’s Shekhar Dutt on Thursday.
The Supreme Court had in 2010 ruled that governors “cannot be removed on account of their political or ideological leanings” and that the government should state its reasons in writing for asking a governor to go. Government sources said the Centre might offer “reasons”, if needed, in some cases.
The reference was to the CBI probe into alleged Delhi Jal Board irregularities that occurred when Kerala governor Sheila Dikshit ruled Delhi, and the agency’s request to question Goa governor B.V. Wanchoo as a “witness” in the AgustaWestland chopper deal.
Narayanan is also a potential witness because he was the national security adviser then, although no question has been raised about his personal integrity. But if he resigns on his own, any reference to the helicopter deal in any communication from the Centre will become infructuous.
Most of the governors the NDA wants eased out have been associated with the Congress directly or indirectly. Some are former security officials who were responsible for the security of the Nehru-Gandhis at some point.
Nagaland governor Ashwani Kumar, a former CBI director, was with the Special Protection Group that protected Rajiv Gandhi when he was Prime Minister. Kumar, who met Modi and Rajnath this week, has told reporters he would resign if asked to.
But Beniwal is expected to be allowed to complete her term, which ends in October. The government initially wanted her out but had second thoughts realising her removal may be seen as revenge, a well-placed source said.
Narasimhan, a former Intelligence Bureau director who was also governor of BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, is said to have an “excellent record” as intelligence officer and governor. He had succeeded Ajit Doval, now the national security adviser, as IB director.
The Congress has reacted cautiously, saying the government should retain governors who want to stay on.