Raj Bhawans are “Congress-mukt”

Centre defends Beniwal sack, sent dossier on her to Prez

New Delhi

The NDA government is adamant that it has sacked Kamla Beniwal as Mizoram governor — just two months before her term was to end – because of ‘gross impropriety.’ The ‘impropriety’ was on three specific counts, which have been listed in a dossier sent to President Pranab Mukherjee.

One of the allegations contained in the dossier against the 87-year-old former Gujarat Governor is that she spent just one day in Mizoram, where she was posted a month ago, and mostly stayed in Rajasthan, her home state.

The second charge, top sources told TV channels, relates to Beniwal’s frequent air jaunts at the taxpayer’s expense in Gujarat. She reportedly used the state aircraft 53 times to fly to Jaipur. Beniwal’s alleged involvement in a land scam in Rajasthan is reportedly the third reason. She is accused of claiming cheap land meant for farmers after falsely stating in affidavits that she had tilled the land for 14 to 16 hours a day for 50 years, though she was a minister in the state’s Congress government.

“Action was taken within rules, as per Constitution. There were serious allegations,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said, denying any politics of vendetta.

But it is an open secret that Beniwal had sharp differences with Modi when he was Gujarat Chief Minister. She had got on chief minister Modi’s nerves by not giving assent to Gujarat Lokayukta Bill and keeping the “Bill pending for inordinately prolonged periods”.

The underlying theme for the action is the NDA government’s belief  that the governors are all political appointees and it follows that they should all resign on their own when the party that appointed them has been defeated in the elections and is no longer in power at the centre.

However, this premise goes against a Supreme Court decision that rules that governors are appointed for five years and do not have to resign because of change in regime at the centre.

Opposition parties wasted no time in charging that Beniwal was punished for taking on Modi in Gujarat, the state he ruled for 13 years before taking charge as Prime Minister. Congress leader Manish Tewari said, “She was first transferred in a cavalier manner to a northeastern state and then removed. Governors are constitutional authorities. They cannot be trampled upon or trifled with like this.”

Congress leader Ajay Maken tweeted:  “If she was to be removed, why was she transferred to Mizoram only a few days back?’’

Congress ally, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said: “There is a Supreme Court judgment and this is a clear violation of that judgment. It is political vendetta. It is most unfortunate that a government has acted against a lady governor.”

Senior Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal said: “If they wanted then they could have waited for two months more for her to retire. This is not a good message that they are sending.”

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