How governor Koshyari ended up riling his own party
Maharashtra may soon have a new governor after ‘too clever by half’ Bhagat Singh Koshyari gets an unceremonious ouster from the Raj Bhavan
Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has always been seen as too clever by half by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance whose government had been constantly under siege from the Raj Bhavan.
Now this hoshiyari (cunning) by Koshyari—the derisive slogan coined by the MVA—has come back to bite the BJP which was once delighting in his troubling of the MVA government and was, in fact, egging him on to cause trouble for former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
The straw that finally broke the camel's back proved to be his nth comment on Maharashtra’s iconic warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. What he said was none too unsavoury unlike his earlier comments on Shivaji or the other Maharashtrian icons like Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and his wife Savitribai, India's first female teacher who had made a decisive bid for the education of girls in the country. Yet this time his denial of the greatness of the Chhatrapati did not amuse either his descendants or other BJP members in the state.
Since then, there have been incessant complaints to both the prime minister and the home minister by many top BJP leaders and Koshyari was even summoned to New Delhi by Amit Shah in December 2022 for an explanation. Last week, Koshyari is reported to have told PM Narendra Modi that he did not want to continue any longer as a governor.
However, that is now being seen as dissembling. Observers believe he is not really serious but this is just a means of defusing the tensions that have arisen between him and the state BJP, more particularly with former Satara MP Udayanraje Bhosale and former Rajya Sabha MP Sambhajiraje of Kolhapur, Shivaji's directed descendants, both of whom have bitterly complained to the top party leadership about Koshyari. Both have demanded his recall on threat of agitations and exit from the party.
Koshyari, however, before getting into trouble with the Shivaji descendants had served his party well by keeping the MVA government in a constant state of turmoil and targeting then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray at the slightest pretext, going beyond his constitutional duties and barriers as a governor. But he went one step too far after the displacement of the MVA by saying Mumbai would have been nothing without Gujaratis, raising hackles of Maharashtrians, including those supporting the BJP, thus imperilling the future of the party in the state.
When he praised Union minister Nitin Gadkari to the skies saying he was a hero while Shivaji was great only in another century, even Gadkari was not amused. And that also brought to the fore a lot of factional divisions within the BJP, including one between Gadkari and Modi.
The matter seemed to take a serious turn when Bhosale recently participated in a silent march organised by various outfits as a part of the Pune bandh against Koshyari’s remarks on Shivaji. The protesters not just sought Koshyari’s removal from the post and an apology from him but also from the BJP thus making it clear that Chhatrapati Shivaji was more important to the Bhosale cousins than party affiliations.
Bhosale, along with his supporters, had also twice held press conferences seeking action against the governor and the BJP spokespersons. He had also visited Raigad fort with his supporters to pay homage to Shivaji and reportedly met Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his demand.
Following this, Koshyari, in a series of tweets earlier this week, said that he has conveyed his wishes to be relieved of all political responsibilities to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the latter's visit to Mumbai.
It is an attempt to pacify the Bhosale cousins but sources reveal that the decision to recall Koshyari has been taken at the Centre. However, since Koshyari has been a very useful element to the top duo in the BJP, they are going slow and allowing him to retain his self-esteem among his supporters through this elaborate charade by laying the grounds for the pretence that he was tired of his job and wanted to return home.
Koshyari has also been getting into trouble for entertaining models and small-time actresses at the Raj Bhavan and even using government aircraft to fly them places. All governors are known to stretch the resources of Raj Bhavan and entertain more people from their home states than the locals. But Koshyari seems to have beaten all old records in this regard. The opposition has also accused him of turning Raj Bhavan into another BJP party office.
But not knowing where to draw the line he is now under fire from his own party men too and provided the people, including the Bhosale cousins, are not pacified, it could be just a matter of time before Maharashtra has a new governor.
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