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Governor thorn plucked

New Delhi, Aug. 6: Former Gujarat governor Kamla Beniwal, who had several run-ins with Narendra Modi as chief minister before being shifted last month to Mizoram, was sacked today.

Beniwal is the second governor to be removed since the Modi government took charge. Puducherry’s lieutenant-governor Virendra Kataria was eased out last month.

“The President (Pranab Mukherjee) has directed that Dr. (Smt.) Kamla Beniwal shall cease to hold the office of the governor of Mizoram,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan release said, almost echoing the language used while removing Kataria.

Manipur governor Vinod Duggal has been given additional charge of Mizoram “until regular arrangements are made”, the release said.

When Beniwal was transferred to Mizoram exactly a month ago and not sacked like Kataria, it had led to speculation the Centre may not remove her unceremoniously.

Soon after the Modi government took over, several UPA-appointed governors reportedly received calls from Union home secretary Anil Goswami asking them to quit. Maharashtra’s K. Sankaranarayanan had publicly admitted having received such a call.

Others, like Bengal’s M.K Narayanan and Goa’s Bharat Wanchoo, were “interviewed” by the CBI as witnesses in the VVIP chopper deal case. Both quit last month.

In Beniwal’s case, sources said “land grabbing” allegations against her in home state Rajasthan — raised by BJP leaders in Parliament in 2012 when she was Gujarat governor — could now be cited as a premise to justify her dismissal.

The Modi government appointed several BJP figures as governors last month, including Uttar Pradesh veteran Keshari Nath Tripathi in Bengal and Delhi leader O.P. Kohli in Gujarat.

Eyes are now on Rajasthan, where Congress leader Margaret Alva’s term as governor ended yesterday, and on Kerala, where party colleague Sheila Dikshit holds the post. The former Delhi chief minister faces corruption allegations over the 2010 Commonwealth Games.