The government on Sunday appointed six new faces as governors, including retired Supreme Court judge S Abdul Nazeer, who was part of the historic 2019 Ayodhya verdict, and four BJP leaders, besides carrying out a rejig of the gubernatorial posts in seven states.
According to a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson, President Droupadi Murmu has accepted the resignations of Bhagat Singh Koshyari and R K Mathur as the governor of Maharashtra and the lieutenant governor of Ladakh respectively.
Ramesh Bais, who was the governor of Jharkhand, has been appointed governor of Maharashtra, the official said.
Koshyari, who has been in the line of opposition fire over his remarks on Chhatrapati Shivaji, said last month that he had conveyed his desire to quit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that he would like to spend the remainder of his life reading, writing and in other activities.
Koshyari, 80, took charge as Maharashtra governor in September 2019 at a time of a political turmoil in the state following Shiv Sena severing its ties with the BJP.
He administered the oath of office to Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar as the deputy chief minster, which lasted only three days.
When the Uddhav Thakeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi was in power, he had several run-ins with the government on a range of issues, including the appointment of 12 members to the state legislative council from the gubernatorial quota, which he never approved. The MVA had accused him of acting in a partisan manner.
The latest controversy surrounding Koshyari was about his remarks on Chhatrapati Shivaji, whom he described as the "icon of olden times". The remarks triggered protests from the opposition parties, who demanded that he be sacked.
It was not immediately known what reasons prompted Mathur's resignation. Mathur has been facing stiff opposition led by noted education reformist Sonam Wangchuk in the three-year-old Union territory.
The President appointed Governor of Arunachal Pradesh Brig B D Mishra (retd) in his place, the spokesperson said.
Justice Nazeer, a former Supreme court judge, according to the spokesperson, was appointed as the new governor of Andhra Pradesh. The incumbent, Biswa Bhusan Harichandan, has been shifted to Chhattisgarh.
Justice Nazeer, who retired on January 4, has been part of several path-breaking verdicts, including those on the politically sensitive Ayodhya land dispute, instant 'triple talaq' and the one that declared 'right to privacy' a fundamental right.
Elevated as an apex court judge on February 17, 2017, Justice Nazeer was part of several Constitution benches which delivered judgements on issues ranging from the demonetisation of currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denominations in 2016 to the reservation for Marathas in admission and government jobs and the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression of high public functionaries.
He was part of a five-judge Constitution bench which had in November 2019 cleared the way for the construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya and directed the Centre to allot a five-acre plot to the Sunni Waqf Board for a mosque.
The Justice Nazeer-led five-judge Constitution benches delivered two separate verdicts this year, including the one which by a majority of 4:1 validated the legality of the Centre's 2016 decision to demonetise the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denomination currency notes, saying the decision-making process was neither flawed nor hasty.
The President also appointed Lt Gen Kaiwalya Trivikram Parnaik (retd) as governor of Arunachal Pradesh, the spokesperson said.
Lt Gen Parnaik (retd) served as commander of the Army's prestigious Northern Command, and it was during his tenure that bodies of two soldiers were mutilated by the Pakistani forces in Poonch sector in 2013.
Four BJP leaders, including two from Uttar Pradesh, were also appointed as new governors.
According to the spokesperson, Lakshman Prasad Acharya, C P Radhakrishnan, Shiv Pratap Shukla and Gulab Chand Kataria have been appointed as governors of Sikkim, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh and Assam respectively.
While Acharya is a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council, Radhakrishnan is a two-time Lok Sabha member of the BJP from Coimbatore. He was the man behind forging the BJP-led NDA alliance in 1999.
Former minister of state for finance Shukla was the BJP's candidate in Rajya Sabha and retired in 2022, whereas Kataria is the sitting Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan Assembly. Kataria had served as the home minister in the previous Vasundhara Raje government.
Other than Bais, Mishra and Harichandan, the other transfers included the shifting of Anusuiya Uikye from Chhattisgarh to Manipur, La. Ganesan from Manipur to Nagaland, Phagu Chauhan from Bihar to Meghalaya and Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar from Himachal Pradesh to Bihar.
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