Opposition parties were demanding Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan’s removal for long.

 

Hyderabad: Tamil Nadu BJP state president Tamilisai’s appointment as the second Governor of Telangana, replacing E.S.L. Narasimhan last Sunday, cheered up not only the BJP cadre, but the entire Opposition in the state. The 58-year old gynecologist from Chennai will be sworn in as Governor by High Court Chief Justice R.S. Chouhan at a ceremony in Raj Bhavan of Hyderabad at 11 am on Sunday.

Obviously, BJP leaders of Telangana are buoyed with Tamilisai’s gubernatorial appointment, but other Opposition parties, including Congress and TDP, too, greeted her posting as they had been demanding removal of Narasimhan for long. Naturally, the ruling TRS camp appeared subdued over the removal of Narasimhan, though Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) called up and greeted her on Monday.

It is Narasimhan’s sudden exit more than the appointment of Tamilisai that has surprised many in political circles here as he is considered to be enjoying greater clout in the Centre, which is one of the reasons for his close-to-a-decade stay as Governor here—since 25 December 2009 for the combined Andhra Pradesh and later from 2 June 2014 for both Telangana and Andhra and only for Telangana since 3 August 2019.

Narasimhan was limited to Telangana alone after senior BJP leader from Orissa Biswabhushan Harichandan was appointed as Governor of Andhra Pradesh on 3 August. According to sources from Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad, Narasimhan was supposed to be continued as Governor at least for another six months, till Biswabhushan Harichandan was well versed with issues of AP Reorganization Act, 2014.

Narasimhan, who retired as director of Intelligence Bureau (IB) in December 2006, was made Governor of Maoist-affected Chhattisgarh in January 2007 and later shifted in December 2009 to Andhra Pradesh which had witnessed political turmoil in the wake of stepped up agitation for a separate Telangana after the demise of then Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a chopper crash in September 2009.

Narasimhan, a 1968 batch IPS officer of AP cadre, is considered to be a strong retired bureaucrat-turned-Governor, thanks to his proximity with his batch-mate IPS officer and now National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. At present, Narasimhan is the senior most of governors in the country and is involved in preparing agenda for annual governors’ conferences too.

Narasimhan succeeded Doval, who too belonged to Kerala cadre IPS of 1968 batch, as IB director and shared certain values concerning national security. Narasimhan, who handled the administration in AP during the turbulent times, used to call the shots though there were elected CMs—K. Rosaiah and N. Kiran Kumar Reddy—between 2009 and 2014.

Narasimhan continued his assertive style of functioning as Governor of both Telangana and Andhra as he was vested with some residuary powers through the AP Reorganization Act 2014. The Act made him responsible for protection of law and order in Hyderabad which would be the common capital for both the states for a period of 10 years, till 2014. That way, he acted like a super Chief Minister of both the states till now.

However, Narasimhan enjoyed close rapport with Telangana CM KCR, but had frozen ties with his Andhra counterpart Chandrababu Naidu when the latter was in power from 2014 to 19. At one stage, several TDP ministers of Andhra openly demanded that Narasimhan be replaced with someone as Governor for their state. Finally, the Centre relieved him of Andhra Pradesh on 3 August, with Harichandan.

The Opposition parties were miffed with Narasimhan for his open support to CM KCR on both public and private forums. There were instances when Narasimhan chided Opposition leaders who came to him in delegations to petition against KCR. Surprisingly, both Congress and BJP leaders were taken aback by Narasimhan’s unabashed support to KCR.

Sources in BJP told this newspaper that it was Narasimhan’s inputs that KCR would support the party at the national level had led to the Centre agreeing to the proposal for advancing Assembly elections in Telangana by six months, in December 2018, instead of the usual timeline of May 2019. However, KCR later went back and floated the idea of a federal front against BJP in parliamentary elections.

The BJP leadership is naturally peeved at the unexpected opposition from KCR and it wants to firm up its base in Telangana as part of its expansion plans in southern Indian. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also BJP national president, had several requests from BJP’s state leaders that Narasimhan be eased out of the post at the earliest. Now, both Telangana and Andhra have got governors with BJP backgrounds.

Though Tamilisai (“isai” is music in Tamil), is fresh to a constitutional post and is not expected to play a political role in Telangana, her presence in Hyderabad Raj Bhavan is a morale booster to the Opposition camp, as the leaders can find a sympathetic listener in her, unlike Narasimhan who used to openly defend KCR. “We wholeheartedly welcome Tamilisai,” said BJP Telangana president K. Laxman.

Telangana BJP leaders are also happy for another gubernatorial appointment—of Bandaru Dattatreya as Governor of Himachal Pradesh. Dattatreya, now 72 years, lost his Union minister post in the Modi regime in September 2007. He was also denied MP ticket from Secunderabad Lok Sabha seat in 2019 from where Union minister of state for home G. Kishan Reddy won this time.

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