Dr Bhai Mahavir recalled his days as Madhya Pradesh Governor so vividly on phone as though he had retired barely a day ago. Talking to Rakesh Dixit, the former Governor remembered who said what, when and how on which day with remarkable precision.
When your confrontation with Digvijay Singh began?
In the initial 8-9 months there was no conflict. Gradually, through meeting people at Raj Bhawan and touring the State, I learnt the appalling plight of education in the State. Proliferation of schools and colleges under political patronage in MP was scandalous. I decided to clean up the system. When I acted, Digvijay Singh opposed. When I did not yield, the Government sought to amend the law to usurp the Chancellor’s powers.
But it did not succeed
Because I deliberately sat on the bill seeking amendments. A fellow Governor had advised me to resort to this device. He said this is the fool proof way to stall the bill’s passage.
Other areas of confrontation?
Many. On Damoh tree-felling issue, I pointed to the CM how the Supreme Court severely indicted forest minister Ratnesh Solomon. But he defended him. The CM’s fielding for Kamlakar Singh’s appointment as Vice Chancellor also put me off. I was convinced this man (Kamlakar Singh) does not deserve to become V-C. But Digvijay would not listen to me. He once lost temper over this issue.
How you felt when the State Government stopped providing you official plane?
See, I am a simple man. I didn’t mind traveling by any mode of transport. But the denial was an insult of the office I held. Several ministers approached me for inauguration of various functions. They assured to get me the official plane for traveling. But none had the courage to speak to the CM. Or, maybe, the CM told them that plane would not be given the Governor.
‘I had no clash with Governor’
How were your relations with Kunwar Mehmood Ali Khan?
Not bad. Just Ok
Weren’t you angry with him when he recommended
dismissal of your government?
There is no point remembering all that now.
Did he ever try to overstep his authority?
I don’t remember. Raj Bhawan and the State Government have their own respective jurisdictions.
Did the Governor give you any reason to feel bitter?
There was no clash between us.
‘It was ideological clash’
Why was Dr Bhai Mahavir so annoyed with you?
Because of ideological reasons.
He says you stonewalled all the good measures he initiated to improve higher and school education. Also, he is still bitter about the way you “ “humiliated” him by ignoring his advices and denying him official plane.
I don’t want to comment on what is gone.
Didn’t you lose temper on him a couple of times?
Can you believe that?
You enjoyed excellent relations with another Governor during your regime, Mohammad Shafi Qureshi.
Yes absolutely. I also enjoyed good relation with late Ramprakash Gupta despite the fact that he subscribed to a different ideology
How you rate Shafi Qureshi as human being?
He was a man of great dignity and erudition.
And Dr Bhai Mahavir?