New Delhi: Arunachal Pradesh governor Jyoti Prakash Rajkhowa has been reportedly asked to step down from his post, weeks after the Supreme Court restored the Congress government in the northeastern state.
Rajkhowa has been told “verbally" by a junior Union minister and a senior official of the home ministry to step down on “health grounds", sources said in New Delhi on Saturday. The Governor’s office, however, said there has been no formal communication from anyone asking Rajkhowa to resign from his post.
“There was no formal communication from anyone asking the Governor to resign from his post. But I have come to know that two-three individuals have spoken to the Governor and verbally indicated that," PRO to the governor Atum Potom told PTI over phone from Itanagar.
After getting the two calls from Delhi asking him to step down, Rajkhowa apparently had approached home minister Rajnath Singh to seek clarification on the issue. But the home minister did not ask Rajkhowa to step down, sources said. However, sources said, if Rajkhowa does not resign on his own, there is a possibility of central government asking President Pranab Mukherjee to withdraw his “pleasure", leading to his sacking.
By rule, Rajkhowa is entitled to a five-year term but it is subjected to the “pleasure of the President. 71-year-old Rajkhowa was appointed as governor in May last year. The reported move by the Centre to seek Rajkhowa’s resignation came weeks after the Supreme Court restored the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh and censured the Governor for “humiliating the elected government of the day".
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The move comes against the backdrop of the political crisis in Arunachal Pradesh triggered by the revolt by Congress MLAs. Congress rebel Kalikho Pul had become chief minister in February and was in power for five months after revolting against the then Congress government led by Nabam Tuki. Pul was subsequently dislodged from power by the apex court.
The Bharatiya Janata Party was providing outside support to Pul, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances in Itanagar last month. The apex court had criticized Rajkhowa for advancing the assembly session and fixing its agenda saying he cannot take away the House’s discretion on the basis of “mere apprehension".
Sources claimed that there were efforts to woo dissident Congress MLAs, led by Pul, to the BJP side for installation of a BJP government in Arunachal Pradesh. But it did not materialise, sources said. Later, following a Supreme Court directive Pul had to resign and all dissident Congress MLAs return to the parent party, leading to installation of a Congress government.
“The return of a Congress government could have been checked had all dissident Congress MLAs joined the BJP instead of continuing as a separate regional outfit," sources said. Meanwhile, Rajkhowa fell ill and could not attend the swearing-in ceremony of Pema Khandu government, which succeeded Pul government. When Khandu expanded his ministry on 3 August, Rajkhowa again showed inability to come for swearing-in ceremony of the new ministers citing his ill health.