The atmosphere at the Raj Bhavan was solemn and dignified, in sync with the occasion -- the oath-taking ceremony of OP Kohli as the new governor of Madhya Pradesh.
There was a thin presence under the big pandal erected for the function but the arrangements were elaborate. If some in the crowd questioned the necessity of such lavishness, a few expressed apprehension if 81-year-old Kohli would be able to restore the glory of Raj Bhavan particularly when he is here to assume office on a temporary basis. .
Kohli and his immediate predecessor Ram Naresh Yadav (88) share something common between them. Both have taken part in the movement against Emergency in 1975 and both were jailed, though at different places.
However, Yadav’s spotless image was sullied when he, his OSD and his son faced corruption charges in connection with the infamous Vyapam Scam. The special task force probing the scam had charged them for alleged involvement in a forest guards recruitment test. It’s a kind of scandal hardly levelled against any governor before in the state.
Yadav’s OSD Dhanraj Yadav was arrested and jailed. His son Shailesh Yadav died in mysterious circumstances in their Lucknow residence. However, the FIR against Ram Naresh Yadav was quashed by the high court which gave him relief on account of the immunity he enjoyed as a governor.
The Vyapam scam is an admission and recruitment scam involving politicians, senior officials and businessmen in Madhya Pradesh. ‘Vyapam’ (Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal) or Professional Examination Board conducted the admission and recruitment tests. The scam spoiled the careers of a large number of talented youths.
State Congress spokesperson JP Dhanopia says Kohli, in fact, has the onerous responsibility of not only restoring the glory of the Raj Bhavan but will also have to infuse a sense of confidence in public -- despite his background as a BJP man. In Raj Bhavan, he will have to function without any bias.
Kohli is also expected to improve the quality of higher education in the state being the chancellor of universities.
“Much is expected of Kohli as he comes from a teaching background. The scenario in Madhya Pradesh is that despite 60-70 engineering colleges there is no employable product from the state,” said political analyst Deepak Tiwari.