New Delhi: Former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, erstwhile Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, senior BJP leaders Kalraj Mishra, Shanta Kumar, Uma Bharti and some retired bureaucrats are amongst the likely names being considered by the Centre for gubernatorial appointments. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in consultation with the Home Minister and party president, Amit Shah may make the announcement probably as early as next week since the five-year tenure of many of the incumbents is shortly coming to an end.
According to sources, some of the Governors who shall be completing their terms have sought extensions. However, it is not known whether their requests would be granted. The term of Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik comes to an end on 24 July while that of Gujarat Governor, O.P. Kohli ends on 16 July and that of West Bengal Governor Kesarinath Tripathi and Tripura Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki on 24 July and 27 July respectively. The Centre could also conclude the tenure of the longest serving Governor E.S.L. Narsimhan—who continues to hold charge of two states—Andhra and Telangana. In fact, Narsimhan’s term as the Telangana constitutional head ceased on 2 June yet he was asked to continue in office.
Others holding gubernatorial assignments whose terms are culminating this year include Justice Palanisamy Sathasivam in Kerala on 31 August, C. Vidyasagar Rao in Maharashtra on 30 August, Vajubhai Vala in Karnataka on 1 September and Kalyan Singh in Rajasthan on 4 September.
Sources stated that in all probability, Sushma Swaraj and Sumitra Mahajan could be offered the states of their choice. While Sushma had not contested the Lok Sabha polls citing poor health, Sumitra had been denied the ticket since she had crossed 75 years of age despite being a nine-time MP from Indore. Speculation is rife that Sushma could be headed for the Raj Bhawan in Punjab, while Sumitra’s new abode could be atop the Malabar Hills in Mumbai. Former Himachal Pradesh Chief Ministers, Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal, may also find favour and receive pivotal assignments. In addition, Kalraj Mishra and Uma Bharti are also in the reckoning.
It is reliably understood that Anil Kumar Dhasmana, former secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat, ex-Intelligence Bureau Chief, Rajiv Jain and his predecessor Dineshwar Sharma and former Chief Election Commissioner, A.K. Joti could also be in consideration. The announcement of new names could lead to a major reshuffle amongst Governors, some of whom may be shifted from their respective states.
The Centre is expected to focus on key non-BJP ruled states, and, therefore, the selection of nominees would be made keeping in mind their vast experience and potential to assist the BJP’s growth in these provinces. For instance, Kesari Nath Tripathi had served the BJP in various capacities and was also the Speaker of the UP legislative Assembly and so his being transferred to West Bengal was considered politically speaking quite significant. Similarly, Ram Naik’s appointment as the UP Governor was the consequence of his long service both to the party and the RSS.
There could be a few surprise choices as well, given the propensity of both Modi and Shah to bring in candidates, who would normally speaking not be in the race. Therefore, it would be a toilsome task to second guess either of them.