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Naik picked for Lucknow

New Delhi, July 14: Former Uttar Pradesh Speaker Keshari Nath Tripathi was today appointed Bengal governor alongside four other BJP leaders, including ex-petroleum minister Ram Naik who is the pick for Lucknow.

The appointments were made by President Pranab Mukherjee and will take effect from the day the leaders assume charge, a Rashtrapati Bhavan communiqué said.

The new faces will replace UPA appointees nudged into stepping down since the Narendra Modi government took charge.

In Bengal, Tripathi, 79, will succeed M.K Narayanan, who put in his papers last month and whose resignation was accepted by the President on July 3. Tripathi was a five-time BJP MLA.

In the Lucknow Raj Bhavan, Naik, 80, will fill the vacancy created by the exit of B.L. Joshi, the first of the UPA-appointed governors to resign. Joshi, who quit on June 17, was perceived to be a close confidant of the Gandhi family.

A three-time MP, Naik is the only leader to have completed five years as petroleum minister in a government. He had announced in 2013 that he would not be contesting this year’s general elections.

In Gujarat, Om Prakash Kohli, 78, a former chief of the BJP’s Delhi unit and a Rajya Sabha member from 1994 to 2000, will take the place of Kamla Beniwal. Beniwal was shifted to Mizoram recently after years of strained ties with Modi when he was chief minister.

The new Chhattisgarh governor is Balramji Das Tandon, 87, one of the founder members of the Jana Sangh. He succeeds Shekhar Dutt, who resigned a few weeks ago. Tandon, a six-time Punjab MLA, was a minister in the current Parkash Singh Badal government. He was critical of the Badal government’s decision in 2012 of providing free electricity to farmers.

Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya will take charge in Nagaland after the resignation of ex-CBI director Ashwani Kumar. Acharya’s appointment is being linked to his experience as the BJP leader in charge of the state in this year’s polls. Acharya will for now also officiate as Tripura governor in place of V. Purushothaman, whose resignation was accepted today by the President.

Goa governor and former SPG chief B. Wanchoo also quit recently. He and former Bengal governor Narayanan were interviewed by the CBI as witnesses recently in the scrapped AgustaWestland chopper deal.

Senior Congress leaders who remain governors include S.C. Jamir (Odisha), Sheila Dikshit (Kerala) and Shivraj Patil (Punjab).

The terms of some UPA-appointed governors are due to end in the coming months. They include Margaret Alva (Rajasthan), Beniwal (Mizoram), J.B. Patnaik (Assam), D.Y. Patil (Bihar) and Jagannath Pahadia (Haryana).