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Politicians as governors!

While the assignment is a prestigious position, it has been misused by political parties, writes Pankaj Vohra.

india Updated: May 26, 2006 03:38 IST

Should active politicians be given gubernatorial assignments? The debate has resumed with Maharashtra Governor SM Krishna indicating his desire to plunge again into politics on his home turf -- Karnataka.

The development comes at a time when the Centre is getting ready to fill half-a-dozen gubernatorial posts. Some active politicians seeking honourable rehabilitation are already eyeing the Maharashtra slot.

Krishna is not the only one keen on resuming political activity. Recently, Sushil Kumar Shinde gave up the governor’s job in Andhra Pradesh to step on to the political centrestage as Union power minister.

Similarly, Madan Lal Khurana opted out of Rajasthan governorship, which he described as “captivity in a golden cage for a people’s man”. Before him, Moti Lal Vora, Arjun Singh, Surjit Singh Barnala and Jagmohan, all completed their stints as governors and then plunged into politics.

While a gubernatorial assignment is a prestigious position with constitutional sanctity, it has been, at times, used by political parties to accommodate those who have become inconvenient in their home states.

Krishna was sent to Maharashtra after he failed to lead the Congress back to victory in the Assembly polls.

His departure from state politics was one of former Prime Minister HD Deva Gowda’s condition to form a coalition government with the Congress. It was a difficult decision for the Congress, since he had been the Chief Minister. Now, since Gowda ditched the Congress to team up with BJP, Krishna’s supporters feel he would be more useful in Bangalore than in Mumbai. Another reluctant governor, Shinde, became a victim of a conspiracy in his own party.

After the Congress-NCP combine retained power in Maharashtra, he was ousted on the pretext that under his chief ministership, the NCP had managed to elbow out the Congress from the top slot.

The fact was that some Congress leaders first gave the winning seats in power-sharing to NCP and then blamed Shinde for the result.

Despite being the only Dalit leader whom the party had tried to develop in the last decade, he was shunted out to narrow the race between Vilasrao Deshmukh and Prabha Rau. But the high command later realised its folly and rehabilitated him.

Khurana was also sent to Rajasthan after his party’s defeat in the Assembly polls.

Both AB Vajpayee and LK Advani gave him a golden handshake, politically. But he returned to active politics in Delhi after the fall of the NDA government.

Despite these examples of governorship being used as retirement postings, former minister Bhisham Narain Singh, minister and governor for nearly 10 years, feels that politicians are better equipped to hold the post than others since they can easily relate to people.