Governor of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana ESL Narasimhan may finally be on his way out. Reliable sources told a national daily that the Central government has decided to appoint new Governors for both the States and the names of former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for Andhra and Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi for Telangana had almost been finalised.
However, Sushma Swaraj denied her appointment as AP Governor.
Earlier in the day, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan tweeted congratulating Sushma Swaraj on her appointment as AP Governor but later deleted it. Soon after, Sushma in her tweet said, “I called on the Vice President of India Shri Venkaiah Naidu Ji on demitting the office as Minister of External affairs. This was enough for Twitter to appoint me as the Governor of Andhra Pradesh.”
The information came on a day when Narasimhan called on Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi. Emerging from the meeting, the Governor was his usual self, terming it a courtesy call and expressing the hope that the two Telugu States would sort out pending issues in an amicable manner. To queries from the media, he replied he had informed Shah of the political situation in both the States.
The sources said Narasimhan could either be shifted to another State or simply be relieved after the Parliament Session, which commences on June 17 and wraps up by July 26. There is also the possibility of moving him by July 1st itself. Narasimhan already has the distinction of being the longest serving Governor in the country.
He has been holding the Constitutional post for almost 13 years if his stint in Chhattisgarh is also considered. He was appointed Governor of the undivided Andhra Pradesh in December 2009 and was made the common Governor of Telangana and Andhra after the State division in 2014.
The AP Reorganisation Act 2014 says on and from the appointed day, the Governor of the existing State of Andhra Pradesh shall be the Governor for both the successor States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for such period as may be determined by the President. The Modi government stuck to him as he had overseen the division of the State and was seen as playing a key role in ensuring that relations between the two new States were smooth.
Nonetheless, the sources pointed out that the Modi government is none too pleased with the soft corner the Governor allegedly has towards Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.
“The recent political developments in Telangana (merger of the Congress Legislature Party with the TRS) could well be the last straw. The Centre also doesn’t seem to be happy with the way he allocated buildings belonging to AP to Telangana,” the sources observed.
As for his successor, it is certain that this time there will be separate Governors for the two States. Former Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s name is also said to be in the reckoning for the post of AP Governor.
Similarly, BJP veterans Uma Bharti and Bandaru Dattatreya’s names were also considered, sources said, adding that “Kiran Bedi is most likely to be appointed Governors for Telangana.
Bedi could prove to be quite a handful for KCR as the BJP is keen on emerging as the main opposition in Telangana by 2024.” Her proactive approach in Puducherry has raised the hackles of Chief Minister Narayanasamy time and again.
If a Governor is appointed for Andhra, the obvious question is where will she/he be put up. The Jagan government will have to make a temporary arrangement until the Raj Bhavan is built.