To evade poll code, Sheila Dikshit made governor in hours

published on June 2, 2014
The UPA-2 government may have faced criticism of policy paralysis but files moved at breakneck speed for the appointment of former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit as Kerala governor. In a bid to beat the election code of conduct, sitting Kerala governor Nikhil Kumar resigned, Karnataka governor HR Bharadwaj was handed interim charge and finally Dikshit appointed as Kumar’s successor all in the space of a few hours on March 4.

The code of conduct was to come into effect a day later.

The information disclosed by the home ministry was in response to an RTI plea filed by activist SC Agrawal. According to the documents made public, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde recommended appointment of Dikshit as Kerala governor following a one-line resignation from Kumar. In his letter dated March 4 to President Pranab Mukherjee, Kumar said, “I resign as governor of Kerala with immediate effect.” He did not ascribe any reason for his resignation.

Not only was Kumar’s resignation accepted the same day but in the next few hours, President’s secretary Omita Paul shot off a letter and a warrant to Bharadwaj asking him to take additional charge. A few hours later, Paul issued a warrant under the hand and seal of the President and a letter appointing Dikshit as Kerala governor.

The President is empowered to appoint governors in accordance with Article 155 of the Constitution. Accordingly, home ministry joint secretary S Suresh Kumar in his note said Kumar was appointed by the President as governor of Nagaland and assumed office on October 15, 2009. He was transferred to Kerala where he assumed office on March 23, 2013 with his five-year term expiring on October 14, 2014.

The note, approved by home secretary Anil Goswami and minister Shinde, said that as “indicated by the home minister”, the government had decided to recommend Dikshit for the job. Delhi CM for three terms, Dikshit led the party to a rout in the assembly elections in December 2013. She lost her seat to AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal.

Though governors are seen to have a largely ceremonial role, they are the Centre’s representative in the state and have increasingly been used by political parties to “reward” loyalists.

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