New Delhi, July 5: The Manmohan Singh government today appointed governors in four states ruled by non-Congress parties even as the controversy over the sacking of the previous occupants of Raj Bhavan in these states reached the Supreme Court.
Three of the four governors appointed by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam are career politicians from the Congress. They are Nawal Kishore Sharma, A.R. Kidwai and S.C. Jamir.
The fourth — T.V. Rajeshwar — retired as head of the Intelligence Bureau when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister and had a stint as governor of Bengal when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister. Rajeshwar has been appointed governor of Uttar Pradesh.
Sharma, a senior Congress leader, has been made governor of Gujarat. Former Bihar governor Kidwai — who was removed by the NDA government in his last stint as governor — will take charge in Haryana, while Jamir, a former Nagaland chief minister, will head for Goa.
A Rashtrapati Bhavan communiqué this evening said: “The appointments will take effect from the date they assume charge of their respective offices.”
The appointments came even as a BJP MP filed a public interest litigation in the apex court challenging the sacking of Vishnu Kant Shastri (in Uttar Pradesh), Kailashpati Mishra (Gujarat), Babu Parmanand (Haryana) and Kidar Nath Sahni (Goa). All four, who had RSS-BJP backgrounds, were appointed during the previous National Democratic Alliance regime.
Home minister Shivraj Patil had last week defended the decision to remove the four — after they refused to put in their papers — on the grounds that they were associated with a different ideology and would have problems adjusting to the change of government.
In his late seventies, Rajeshwar’s appointment as governor of Uttar Pradesh is considered significant in view of the continuing spat between the Congress and the ruling Samajwadi Party over the deteriorating law and order condition, besides other issues like power cuts. Rajeshwar, who has also served as governor of Sikkim, is expected to keep a close watch on political developments in the state.
Sharma, on the other hand, enters Gujarat Raj Bhavan at a time when chief minister Narendra Modi has become a target of attack of dissidents in the BJP and is in the middle of a furore caused by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s critical comments.
Sharma, 79, has been in active politics for a larger part of his life and is a former Union minister and AICC general secretary. In Gujarat, he is expected to keep the chief minister on tenterhooks.
The appointment of Kidwai, 84, a sitting Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Delhi, as Haryana governor comes a few months ahead of the Assembly elections scheduled in the state ruled by the Om Prakash Chautala-headed Indian National Lok Dal. Kidwai’s predecessor had landed into a controversy after his appeal to back the Vajpayee-led BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.
Jamir, who has been at the forefront of the campaign against militancy in the sensitive Northeast state, had said recently that he wanted to go to a peaceful state.