In an early Sunday operation, Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan was suddenly transferred to Mizoram, raising protests from the Congress.
The transfer order came barely three days after Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and other members of the ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party coalition boycotted functions attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Nagpur.
The state's top political brass skipped the official functions ostensibly to protest against the heckling of non-BJP chief ministers in the recent past by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists.
The booings were witnessed in Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand -- coincidentally all at central functions attended by Modi.
Sankaranarayanan, among a dozen governors appointed by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime, was already high on the hit-list after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government came to power.
This was especially since assembly elections in Maharashtra are scheduled to be announced in the next few weeks, a top-ranking government official, requesting anonymity, said.
But, last month after he firmly rebutted bureaucratic attempts to make him resign, it was largely believed that Sankaranarayanan had earned a reprieve and would not be disturbed -- at least, till the state polls were over.
Last week's boycott of Modi's functions -- an unprecedented development in Maharashtra politics -- appears to have accelerated the exit of the governor, usually considered a soft target after a change in government, the official said.
Sankaranarayanan is reportedly in two minds -- whether to accept the Mizoram assignment with more than three years' tenure left or simply quit and retire.
However, the decision may be taken only after he hands over the baton to his successor, Gujarat Governor Om Prakash Kohli, who has been given additional charge of Maharashtra, and after he consults Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Kohli will take charge at the Raj Bhavan here Sunday evening. He will be sworn in by Chief Justice Mohit S. Shah of the Bombay High Court.
Chavan, Ajit Pawar, cabinet ministers, leaders of the opposition and other parties, judges and other dignitaries shall attend the ceremony.
A Congress veteran from Kerala, Sankaranarayanan, 82, who was transferred as Maharashtra governor in 2010, was re-appointed for a second term in 2012. Earlier, he served stints in Jharkhand and Nagaland for three years.
The soft-spoken Sankaranarayanan developed excellent rapport with all the political parties and enjoyed a non-controversial image during the past few years in Maharashtra.