Telangana CMO unhappy with Governor appointment. It puts it down on paper

Is the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti unhappy with the appointment of Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan? Are the views of Jwala Narasimha Rao, Chief Public Relations Officer to chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, his personal opinion or do they reflect the CM’s mind? 

In a column in an English daily on Monday, Narasimha Rao called the latest round of appointment of Governors, including Soudararajan in Telangana, “a process of political rehabilitation for the party in power at the Centre”. Quoting from the Sarkaria Commission report of 1987, Rao says none of his recommendations were followed in the appointment to the Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad. This is what Rao wrote : 

“The Sarkaria Commission in its report in October 1987, suggested that the Governor should be a person of some eminence in some field and should be a detached figure with little record of participation in the local politics of the State. He or she should be a person who has not taken too great a part in politics generally and particularly in the recent past of his or her appointment. It is desirable that a politician from the ruling party at the Centre should not be made the Governor of a State run by another party. It should be ensured that there is effective consultation with the Chief Minister of a State while appointing a Governor in that State. None of these are apparently followed.

Let the appointment of Governors not be a process of political rehabilitation for the party in power at the Centre as reflected in the recent appointments under the present dispensation. It’s high time we make necessary changes in the Constitution and do away with the old practices? The sooner, the better.”

The BJP is understandably upset with the article because it casts aspersions against the BJP government at the Centre for the manner in which it made the appointments. Two, it sees the incumbent in Hyderabad as more friendly to the opposition than her predecessor, who was seen as pro-KCR. 

“It seems the Chief minister’s office is rattled by Dr Soundararajan’s appointment for reasons best known to them,” said Krishnasagar Rao, BJP spokesperson, condemning the attempt to cast aspersions on the gubernatorial office.

Three questions arise here. If KCR is not in sync with what his officer wrote, the CM should ideally distance himself from it as it sours the relationship between the CMO and Raj Bhavan just when the new Governor is settling into the job.

Two, the article suggests that KCR was not consulted over the appointment. The CM should say so, if that indeed was the case.

Three, the article dwells at length on how state governments were shown the door using the office of the Governor in the past. Does the TRS regime fear something similar in Telangana?

The question also is whether the Telangana CMO (if Narasimha Rao is indeed putting forth its view) is judging the new Governor too soon. It may be recalled that the TRS was suspicious of the role it thought ESL Narasimhan will play during the Telangana agitation days but soon settled into a comfortable working relationship with him. It reflected in the warm send-off KCR gave to Narasimhan. (see pic)

At the same time, it is true that Raj Bhavans – be it the Congress in the past or the BJP now – continue to be used as a post-political career destination for old warhorses. While Dr Soundararajan’s appointment was dictated more by the politics within the Tamil Nadu unit of the BJP, appointments like Bandaru Dattatreya to Shimla Raj Bhavan or BS Koshyari (former CM of Uttarakhand) as Maharashtra Governor, are nothing but rehabilitation for a five-year period. 

On her part, the Governor has extended the olive branch. While addressing Raj Bhavan employees on Monday, Soundararajan called herself “a partner in the task of promoting all round development” along with the chief minister.

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