New governors: Najma Heptulla gets rewarded but Anandiben Patel's omission surprises many - Firstpost

New governors: Najma Heptulla gets rewarded but Anandiben Patel's omission surprises many

Former Union minister Najma Heptulla, who is now the Manipur Governor-designate, is a clear example how patience and obedience pay dividends in politics.

Two months after she resigned from the Union government as the Minister for Minority Affairs to adhere to the unofficial norm of the RSS and the BJP that a leader should hold no active politics post (minister or organisational post in the party) after attaining the age of 75.

Najma Heptullah. Image courtesy PIB

Najma Heptullah. Image courtesy PIB

By resigning without any fuss and by issuing a statement, praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she had ensured that she remained on the right side of the reigning political dispensation in the BJP and in the Central government. Mark her words, which she said in her post-resignation statement on 13 July: "I am extremely thankful to the Hon"ble Prime Minister for giving me the opportunity and honour to be in his Cabinet, where I gained a lot of experience and I have tried to fulfil his expectation towards 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas'. I will always be available for any responsibility given to me in future. I have resigned from my post due to personal reasons."

Another leader GM Siddeshwara, the then Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, who too had resigned with her on similar grounds, 75 has so far been kept in the cold.

However, what has turned out to be most interesting is the missing name of former Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel from the list of would be-governors that came out from the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday. Although Anandiben had to resign ostensibly due to the unabetting Patidar protests, she however chose a more graceful reason to exit saying that she was fast approaching 75 years.

"There has been a tradition in the party for sometime that those who attain the age of 75, voluntarily retire from the post. I will turn 75 in November... "It (the rule of 75) is a good thing and it will give a chance to young leaders to come up....," Patel had said before giving up her office. A new leader Vijay Rupani indeed came up but he was not of her liking. In the process, Anandiben also burnt bridges with BJP chief Amit Shah. She is still considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi though.

When speculations on appointment of new governors gained ground in the National Capital, it was expected that Anandiben's name would figure for some important state in the list of new appointees. But it was not there.

Heptulla had resigned citing "personal reasons", Anandiben resigned citing party tradition of 75. Anandiben had made it official which had so far been unofficial despite Yashwant Sinha's famous post-75 "brain dead" statement.
No BJP leader would officially say that this is a norm. For if they do so, continuance of Kalraj Mishra in the Union cabinet can't be justified.

It's no brainer that Mishra, a seasoned Brahmin leader from Uttar Pradesh, can't be dropped now, at least till the conclusion of Uttar Pradesh polls in March 2017.

Intense speculations are on in the power corridors as to why her name didn't figure in list of new governors. Her post-retirement benefit is on hold, at least for now.

Although no one has the clear answer, broadly, three reasons are cited due to which, she missed the berth. First, she had expressed her unwillingness for now, as she wanted to remain active in Gujarat politics for some time, till the conclusion of the elections next year. She has to ensure that her supporters are not ignored or treated harshly by the new dispensation in the state. Secondly, she had rubbed Amit Shah and Modi too, in the wrong way by initially making her intent public through Facebook and talking tough to Shah over choice of her successor. She was rooting for Nitin Patel's name to succeed her. Thirdly, she was undergoing a "cooling off" period and will have her share of post-retirement in due course. There was no hurry, either on her part or on the part of PM Modi.

Najma, however, should take a note that Manipur lately has proved to a graveyard for Governors. Since December 2013, Manipur has seen five Governors (including two of additional charge) and she is going to be the sixth. One would hope that she breaks that jinx and completes her five-year term.

Another poll bound state Punjab gets a new Governor, former BJP MP VP Singh Badnore. He is a seasoned non-controversial party leader from Rajasthan and served in the state assembly as a minister and in both houses of Parliament for several terms.

Appointment of Banwarilal Purohit as Assam Governor is interesting. He is from Nagpur and has been three time MP, first two terms as Congress MP and then as BJP MP. He had left Congress and joined BJP in the wake of LK Advani's Ram Rath Yatra. He owns daily newspaper Hitavada.

Delhi BJP leader, Jagdish Mukhi who lost Delhi assembly election takes the cake by becoming Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Mukhi served as the finance minister in the Delhi government when BJP was in power about two decades ago. Since then he had been trying hard to keep himself relevant.

He had virtually been forgotten by his own party men in Delhi. But then luck smiled on him. He will have privilege of ruling this scenic Union Territory, which is also very important from the strategic point of view.

By making new appointments, the Modi government has relieved "additional charge" from the governors in Assam (Nagaland Governor Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya), Manipur (Meghalaya Governor V Shanmuganathan) and Punjab (Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki) to create more room to oblige aging party leaders.

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