Hours after he was shunted to Mizoram, Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan on Sunday resigned from his post, virtually hitting out at the Centre suggesting that the move could be part of political vendetta.
Refusing to take up his new assignment, Sankaranarayanan, a 82-year-old senior Congress leader from Kerala, said he did not want to continue in the gubernatorial position any longer and that he had sent in his resignation to President Pranab Mukherjee. His term was due to end on May 6, 2017.
“I don’t want to continue as Governor. It is not possible for me to go to Mizoram. There may be many reasons in the backpages. As governor, I have never played politics. I will honour the Constitution as it is a magna carta for the post,” he told a news conference at Raj Bhavan.
A Rashtrapati Bhawan communique issued late Saturday night said Sankaranarayanan has been shifted to Mizoram and Gujarat Governor O P Kohli has been asked to discharge his duties.
To a question if he felt his transfer was humiliation and a political vendetta by government, he said, “In life there are many humiliations. If you think this is humiliation, I don’t think so. It is up to you (media) to decide if this is a political vendetta or friendship. Our press people are so shrewd, so capable, so intelligent.”
In a democratic set up, no government is permanent, no post is permanent, that will change. Democracy is bigger than anything, we are one of the biggest democratic countries in the world,” he said in a veiled dig at the Narendra Modi government.
Sankaranarayanan also indicated that he may return to active politics. “I am a free citizen from tomorrow. There will be no protocol. I am free to speak and criticise,” he said.
Sankaranarayanan was among the first batch of governors who was telephoned by Home Secretary Anil Goswami to put in his papers after change of government at the Centre. Some governors had given in to the pressure and resigned, while others, including Sankaranarayanan, had dug in their heels and refused to do so.
He had told media personnel in mid-July that he had received two calls from Home Secretary Anil Goswami, asking him to resign, but he had refused to do so. He said he was satisfied with his performance as the state Governor. “I know I have done justice to my work,” he said.
When asked about the replacement of governors that usually happens when new government takes charge, Sankaranarayanan said that gubernatorial assignments are above politics. “They (governors) are appointed for five years and the term is extended if the President feels so. Prestige and status of governors should be upheld. No government or post is permanent democracy is bigger than these things. I don’t have agony against anyone. I am happy,” he said.
Sankaranarayanan has been serving as Governor of Maharashtra since January 22 2010. He took oath as Governor for a second time on May 7, 2012 after the President granted him a fresh term of 5 years.
“I have no complaints against any political party or organisation. I have had excellent relations with all parties in Maharashtra, including Shiv Sena and BJP,” he said in response to a query.
The transfer of Sankaranaryanan comes close on the heels of the Supreme Court issuing a notice to the Centre on Uttarakhand Governor’s plea challenging Modi government’s moves to ease him out of office, bringing the controversy over removal of United Progressive Alliance-appointed Governors under judicial lens.
Responding to a query on his tenure in Maharashtra, Sankaranarayanan said, “I got support from people from all walks of life in the state.
Sankaranarayanan said that he was shifting to Sahaydri Guest House before heading back to Kerala. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan paid a visit to Sankaranarayanan.
Image: Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan. Photograph: ANI/Twitter