Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari on his way out?

Koshiyari seems to be unable to rein in his tongue whether he means well or means ill towards the government he is the head of

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari (File photo)
Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari (File photo)

Sujata Anandan / Mumbai

Former Maharashtra deputy CM Ajit Pawar thinks state governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari is not interested in staying on in his job any longer. Which is why he is making controversial statements on sensitive issues that could get him sacked and he can return to his home state of Uttarakhand.

“When I met him as finance minister, he told me himself that he is tired and wants to go back. I think his controversial statements are an attention getter for the Centre to note and boot him out,” Ajit recently told reporters in context of the governor’s unsavoury remarks about the state’s iconic warrior king, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

But as the Opposition calls a bandh tomorrow and plans a morcha later this week in protest against the governor and the Maharashtra government’s inability to rein him in, Koshiyari has apologised to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, saying he has all respect for Shivaji Maharaj and other icons and would never make unsavoury remarks against them. His comments have been misinterpreted, he added for better measure in the old political tradition of wriggling out of controversial issues. 

However, Koshiyari seems to be unable to rein in his tongue whether he means well or means ill towards the government he is the head of. During the MVA regime, he made salacious remarks about India’s first female teacher Savitribai Phule and her reformist husband Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, two other icons of the state.   

Then he upset all Maharashtrians by stating that Mumbai would be nothing without Gujaratis and Marwaris. He had to quickly apologise in the face of general Maharashtrian outrage.

After a friendly government was slotted in place, he ended up comparing Union minister Nitin Gadkari to Chhatrapati Shivaji that even Gadkari did not appreciate. It also brought forth a warning from BJP ally Balasahbanchi Shiv Sena that if action was not taken against the governor, it could jeopardise both the government and the alliance.

Even the two direct descendants of Chhatrapati Shivaji have now jumped into the fray, with Udayanraje Bhosale of the Satara seat meeting PM Narendra Modi and calling for Koshiyari’s recall while Sambhajiraje Bhosale of the Kolhapur seat has warned of a Maharashtra bandh if he is not recalled soon.

Meanwhile, the MVA has already issued the bandh call for Tuesday, December 13, and found support for it among large sections including traders who will down their shutters all day.

During the MVA regime, the governor had got used to getting away with his unsavoury remarks as the Centre was tacitly supporting his needling of then CM Uddhav Thackeray. Now, however, with a friendly government in residence, the collateral damage that his comments are causing seems to be worrying the Centre and Koshiyari was summoned last week to New Delhi for an explanation.

In view of his apology today and Udayanraje’s visit to Modi, sources say, it may just be a matter of time before the governor sees his wish as expressed to Ajit Pawar to finally retire to the hills of his home state in peace come true. 

For letters have been written in this regard to the President of India by various Opposition and ruling party leaders and, according to sources, Rashtrapati Bhavan has asked the Union Home Minister for an explanation.

 There is a general feeling among all that a man who routinely makes unsavoury remarks about the state’s icons should not be allowed to remain in office as it will ultimately end up damaging the ruling party.

Koshiyari’s days as Maharashtra governor might thus be numbered.

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