The appointment of Biswa Bhusan Haricharan as the new Governor of Andhra Pradesh brings the curtains down on one of the longest gubernatorial tenures in independent India. ESL Narasimhan was appointed as the Governor of united Andhra Pradesh in 2009 after a two-year stint at Raipur Raj Bhavan.
After Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated in 2014, he continued as Governor of both Telugu states. The reasoning was that his presence would help facilitate a smooth division of assets and foster good relations between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. That Narasimhan was a 1968 batch IPS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre was a plus point.
The move comes just when Narasimhan had established a decent working relationship with Jaganmohan Reddy, many years younger than him. It was in contrast to his equation with Naidu that deteriorated over the years. It was partly to do with the fact that Naidu felt Narasimhan was closer to Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.
Things worsened in October 2018 when Narasimhan directly sought a report from the Andhra Pradesh DGP on the knife attack on Jagan inside Visakhapatnam airport instead of asking the state government’s political leadership. Naidu was not amused.
“It is my government. The Governor is only a Constitutional head. What he did is not correct,” fumed Naidu, demanding a debate on the role of Governors in the context of Centre-State relations. The Telugu Desam chief suspected that the Centre was using Narasimhan to needle him since by that time, he had walked out of the NDA and relations with the BJP had gone from bad to worse.
Only last month, Narasimhan played a role in amicably settling a long-pending issue between the two states – the transfer of Secretariat blocks under Andhra’s control to Telangana. This could not be done earlier because there was no love lost between Naidu and KCR. The Centre now obviously feels Andhra can now move forward with a Governor independent of Telangana.
With the appointment, the Centre has pressed the reset button on Andhra Pradesh. Politically the BJP is looking to move into the opposition space in the state at the expense of the TDP. Easier said than done but the saffron party has started its moves by encouraging leaders to move out of the Naidu camp.
All eyes will now be Hyderabad Raj Bhavan to see if Narasimhan continues as Governor of Telangana. With the BJP looking to ramp itself politically in Telangana as well, it is quite possible that it may want an occupant who is not perceived as leaning towards KCR. Incidentally, he is the only Governor from the UPA era who has not been changed, a commentary on what he brings to the table besides good connections in the corridors of power in New Delhi.