At least half-a-dozen Congress governors may be removed if a BJP-led government comes to power after the general elections, senior BJP leaders have told HT.
First on the firing line would be governors the BJP thinks have played a "partisan role" during their tenure. This list includes Maharashtra’s K Sankaranarayanan (former Kerala minister), Karnataka’s HR Bhardwaj (former Union law minister), Gujarat’s Kamla Beniwal (former Rajasthan minister), Jharkhand’s Syed Ahmed (former Maharashtra minister), and Kerala’s Sheila Dikshit (former Delhi CM), among others.
Punjab governor Shivraj Patil — former home minister, who sacked several BJP-appointed governors in 2004 — may also be shown the door. Uttarakhand governor Aziz Qureshi (former Congress MP), Rajasthan’s Margaret Alva (a former Union minister) and Tamil Nadu’s K Rosaiah (former Andhra CM) may also find themselves out of favour with a BJP-led Centre, though their stints have been less controversial.
Read: Governor Sheila gets sheild, but could lose it after LS polls
The exercise is identical to the one undertaken in 2004 — after the NDA was voted out — by the Congress-led government, which dismissed several governors with "RSS background".
Governors who faced the axe then included Vishnu Kant Shastri (Uttar Pradesh), Kailashpati Mishra (Gujarat), Babu Parmanand (Haryana) and Kidar Nath Sahani (Goa).
However, a senior BJP leader denied that "vendetta" was driving the party. Instead, he pointed to Patil’s 2004 statement, when the then home minister had said he could not work with governors who did not enjoy the "confidence" of the Centre.
"Many Congressmen have been made Governors to give them immunity from probes. How the former Delhi CM (Sheila Dikshit) was appointed the governor of Kerala hours before the model code of conduct came into force certainly raised eyebrows," a top BJP leader said. Dikshit was under severe scrutiny for alleged irregularities in spending by her government in Delhi during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The BJP had recently demanded the recall of the Maharashtra governor for "going out of the way" to deny the CBI permission to prosecute former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh housing society scam.
Beniwal and the Narendra Modi government have also been at loggerheads over the appointment of a Lokayukta, the enactment of an anti-terror law and other matters, prompting the party to demand her recall. Bhardwaj ruffled feathers in the BJP camp for trying to topple its government in the southern state between 2010 and 2011.
Read: Sheila Dikshit sworn-in as Kerala Governor