Modi-Governor cold war may reach boiling point soon

THE long-drawn cold war between the governor and the chief minister in Gujarat seems to be fast heating up to reach the boiling point in the days to come.

By Mahesh Trivedi

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Published: Tue 23 Aug 2011, 10:38 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:32 PM

The war of nerves between Dr Kamla and Narendra Modi was once again out in the open earlier this week when the former remained absent at the official ‘at-home’ function organised on the eve of the August 15 Independence Day.

Though the failure of the 84-year-old governor to attend the gathering of top dignitaries for high tea in Nadiad town near Ahmedabad was blamed on heavy rains, it is an open secret that the relations between the former Congress veteran and Modi have soured recently with the Raj Bhavan sending back a number of files of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the past few months.

With Dr Kamla choosing to skip the one-hour formalities, it was left to Modi to greet the ministers, chief whip of the BJP, the Gujarat Police Chief, legislators, senior bureaucrats, the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court, the Speaker of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, Leader of the opposition, prominent citizens, freedom fighters, etc

Traditionally, the ‘At Home’ events have been held every year on the picturesque premises of the Raj Bhavan in the state capital of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, on Independence Day as well as on the Republic Day.

But for the past few years, Modi has hit upon a novel idea of celebrating these days at district headquarters. Accordingly, he had chosen Nadiad in Kheda district for unfurling the flag this year and the governor had to host the ‘At Home’ in the same town.

What’s more, while the ‘At Home’ meetings were organised all these years on I-Day and R-Day, now these important gathering of top dignitaries has to be held on the eve of these special days, thanks to Modi’s dictat.

Dr Kamla has been angry that the Modi regime has time and again ignored her advice to issue a notification on appointment of a ‘lok ayukta’ (an anti-corruption ombudsman).

The state government recently further infuriated her by rejecting her advice to appoint Justice (retired) R A Mehta on this post of a neutral arbiter.

The BJP administration is also seething with anger after the governor sent back a bill to regularise all illegal buildings in the state for a hefty fee from violators. If Dr Kamla had signed the bill, it would have not only meant regularisation of as many as two million unauthorised structures on payment of an impact fee in all the urban areas of Gujarat but also would have swelled the empty kitty of the debt-ridden exchequer.

An enraged Urban Development Minister Nitin Patel reacted by openly vowing to ‘fight it out’ with the Raj Bhavan, adding that the state government would not make any changes in the bill and once again pass the legislation in the House during the next assembly session.

A resolution quickly passed in the BJP-ruled Ahmedabad municipal corporation also took a swipe at the governor for returning the bill and ‘causing hardships to the common man who had unknowingly broken the law by making some changes in their houses’.

The governor has also left the Modi administration huffing and puffing by not signing a bill on private universities and another on compulsory voting

Dr Kamla’s order earlier to remove an influential but unqualified Gajendra Jani from the post of the registrar of the Saurashtra University, and her action in using her powers as chancellor to select Hemaxi Rao as vice-chancellor of Hemchandracharya University, Patan have also angered the Gujarat government.

Not long ago, the governor also embarrassed the state administration by asking it to explain why it had not taken any steps so far to form a separate State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), as directed by the Centre.

A letter from the Raj Bhawan, shot to the secretary, woman and child development department, said that the Gujarat government should look into early formation of a “separate” SCPCR and “give us appropriate feedback” about it.

Modi, on his part, has not bothered to name a ‘lok ayukta’ but has set up a commission to probe corruption charges against him.

However, in his heart of heart, the Machiavellian politician must be surely thinking of ways to emerge triumphant in his battle of wits with the governor.

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