Why Governor Koshyari Is At The Heart Of Maharashtra’s Standoff

Bombay/Dehradun: “A strong personality” who “just can’t live without politics” and plays by the rules — but also a “simple guy” who follows “RSS lifestyles.” This is how officials who worked closely with Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and members of his former political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), responded when asked to to describe.

His critics, mostly members of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of Maharashtra, instead called him a “puppet” of the BJP-led central government, which “does not believe in the intricacies of democracy”, and “Look at every decision through a political prism”.

The approximately 28 months in power of the MVA have often been marred by a de facto war between Raj Bhavan and the Secretary of State. For more than a year, Koshyari has been on the state government‘s list of 12 candidates for the Legislative Council under the governor’s quota.

Similarly, the leaders of the MVA which includes the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress having called the Governor at least three times to ask him to finalize the date for the election of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

Tuesday, Koshyari permission denied to hold this election during the current budget session of the Assembly on the grounds that the matter is pending. This should further fuel the ongoing struggle.

In the past, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s appointment to the Legislative Council – necessary for him to continue as CM chair – was on hold with Koshyari for almost six months.

The Shiv Sena had slammed Koshyari a staunch supporter of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and a former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand like a “BJP Puppet”.

The rift between the governor and the MVA came to the fore earlier this month, when the former enveloped his address to the state legislature in a minute and walked out amid the chaos in the House.

“This situation has never happened in Maharashtra before. It could be any government or governor in Maharashtra but such a situation has never happened before,” said Shiv spokesperson Manisha Kayande. Sena at ThePrint.

“The only reason for the constant fight is that the governor is appointed by the central government and the BJP cannot come to power here – so how to block the MVA government, how to harm the government? Thus, the governor is being used as a puppet in the hands of the central BJP government,” she added.

A senior congressional official in the MVA government said, “We had great relationships with various governors in the past, but this governor looks at everything from a political prism.”

BJP MP Ram Kadam, however, said the governor was simply following the rules.

Before becoming governor of Maharashtra in 2019, Koshyari was a significant power center in Uttarakhand BJP. Not only is he a former CM of that state, but he was also the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly for five years.

Read also : Mimicry, hissing, walkouts – Maharashtra assembly saw more drama than discussion last year

The Koshyari-MVA showdown

The first signs of a clash between Maharashtra’s Raj Bhavan and the MVA emerged amid the political crisis following the state assembly election in October 2019. Neither party was able to prove his majority, president’s rule was imposed as frantic alliance negotiations continued. with the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress coming together to form the NCP.

But, in the early hours of November 23, 2019, Koshyari administered the oath of office to outgoing BJP CM Devendra Fadnavis, who had the support of a small faction of the NCP, even as Maharashtra woke up to newspapers with headlines about the formation of the MVA government and the declaration of Uddhav Thackeray as the next CM.

Five days later – after Fadnavis resigned ahead of a ground test ordered by the Supreme Court – Uddhav was sworn in as CM and was due to be appointed to the Legislative Council by May 2020 in order to continue in office. However, his nomination remained pending with the governor for nearly six months. Despite repeated requests, Raj Bhavan only approved his appointment in April 2020, when Uddhav called the Prime Minister’s office.

That same year, in October, Koshyari and Uddhav had a bitter exchange of letters over the issue of reopening places of worship after the Covid-19 lockdown. Requesting the opening of the temples, the governor demand the CM if he had “become lay”. The last retort that he did not need Koshyari’s certificate for his Hindutva.

The MVA chief quoted earlier told ThePrint that Koshyari is a “hardcore RSS man” who “doesn’t believe in the intricacies of democracy” and “looks at every decision from a political prism”.

“It’s nothing but harassing the government,” he added.

Conflict over MLC appointments, election of president, controversial remarks

The dispute between Koshyari and the MVA over the appointment of 12 MLCs and the election of the Speaker of the Assembly was particularly long.

The government had sent the names of 12 candidates to be elected as MLCs under the governor’s quota, but Koshyari has yet to respond to that call.

Earlier this month, the Bombay High Court had pulled up the chief minister and the governor, saying it was “unfortunate that the two most senior officials did not trust each other”.

BJP MP Ram Kadam, however, said it was not the governor’s fault.

“If they had given a proper list in accordance with the law and regulations, he would have approved it. The Governor will act in accordance with the Constitution. The BJP has nothing to do with it,” he told ThePrint.

“The governor is very accessible and available to everyone. And even after that they blame him – for what? Kadam asked.

The position of Speaker of the Assembly, meanwhile, has been vacant since last February, when Nana Patole resigned to take over as Speaker of the Maharashtra Congress. In July last year, Koshyari wrote to CM Thackeray, asking when the government planned to organize the election of a new president.

For the MVA – a coalition made up of new allies who have had their share of divisions – the prospect of an election was then a precarious matter as it required a second show of force in the assembly, with the added risk posed by a poll. secret.

In December last year, the MVA government changed the rules of the assembly to hold the election through a voice vote, a safer option for the government than a secret ballot. Since then, he has been asking the governor to set a date for the poll. J

However, tThese amendments have since been challenged through PIL in the Bombay High Court, and the governor’s letter of March 15 put a stop to the work. “As the matter is pending, the date for the election of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly cannot be set,” the letter said.

Koshyari also fueled controversy when he claimed last month that Samarth Ramdas, a 17th-century spiritual teacher born into a Brahmin family in Maharashtra, was Chhatrapati Shivaji’s teacher. Another one remark, allegedly mocking the child marriage of 19th century social reformers Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule, also drew criticism from MVA leaders.

An official working with Koshyari said the governor often attempted “wry humor”, and while he should be aware of what he is saying, “sometimes there can be a slip-up”.

“He’s a very strong personality and he doesn’t listen to our advice. He will listen, but ignore our suggestions,” he said, adding that the relationship between Koshyari and the MVA, in his view, is now beyond repair.

“He just can’t live without politics, and you can’t take politics away from him,” the official added.

ThePrint requested a response from the governor’s office, which said it did not wish to comment on the matter.

“A wise politician”, a “power center” in Uttarakhand

Bhagat Singh Koshyari was also an important power center in the Uttarakhand BJP.

The State Party has witnessed a major and long-running factional fight between Koshyari and his rival, former CM Major Gen BC Khanduri. As a hard-core RSS man, Koshyari had an advantage when it came to his influence in the organizational setup of the state, BJP sources told ThePrint.

Political analysts regard Koshyari as a “cunning” politician whose opponents have never had a clue of his movements and actions.

“It is a well-known fact that Koshyari has always been a grassroots leader with enormous influence among the masses, and with the central BJP leadership as well. He is the only BJP leader with a pan-state mass appeal, who could match the stature of Harish Rawat from the Congress party,” Dehradun-based political analyst Jai Singh Rawat said.

Koshyari was the second chief minister of the state and the only sitting CM to win the assembly elections. He served as opposition leader from 2002 to 2007 after his party lost Uttarakhand’s first election after splitting from Uttar Pradesh in 2000.

Koshyari then became the head of state of the BJP from 2007 to 2009 after BC Khanduri was appointed CM. He was then elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2008 in order to keep him away from Uttarakhand politics, party sources said.

In 2014, he was elected to the Lok Sabha but was denied a ticket in the 2019 general election and was appointed Governor of Maharashtra in August 2019.

However, party sources said Koshyari is still calling the shots in Uttarakhand, adding that it is well known that Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami has always been a Koshyari loyalist in the factional struggle within the organization. State.

Dhami was his adviser and special duty officer in 2002 when Koshyari headed the interim government of Uttarakhand. BJP leaders in the state said the decision to do Dhami CM had “Koshyari’s blessings”.

“The Governor of Maharashtra was a key force in repealing the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Board Act which also helped the party win this election,” a BJP leader told Reuters. ThePrint.

Simple man following the RSS lifestyle

An official who works with the governor said Koshyari still followed the “RSS way of life” and was a simple man.

“He gets up at 3 a.m. every day, does yoga and prefers to make his own tea. In the evening, if there is no program planned, he likes to walk in the garden without fail. He’s not a movie buff at all, but he’s an avid reader. He has no hobbies other than reading. He enjoys reading English literature and new languages. Apart from his Pahadi languages, he knows Hindi, English, Marathi, Bengali and even Nepali languages,” he added.

The official further said that the governor is a “people’s person” who has traveled to 33 districts in Maharashtra.

“Let’s put his politics aside, he’s a man who loves people, understands their emotions, respects them. His unique quality is that he remembers people by name, a very intelligent man. He kept the governor’s house very busy. I have seen many governors working in this office but this man kept Raj Bhavan the busiest,” he added.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Read also : ‘Brahmanic version of the story’? Why Governor Koshyari’s Remarks About Shivaji’s ‘Guru’ Sparked a Row

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