INDIA. Mumbai: In a statement released on Monday, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari (80) said that during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Mumbai, he expressed his wish to resign from his political duties.
Raj Bhavan issued a statement in which Governor Koshyari said that “Serving as the “Rajya Sevak” or “Rajyapal” of a great state like Maharashtra—the home of saints, social reformers, and brave fighters—was a tremendous honour and privilege for me. I will always cherish the kindness and support I have gotten from Maharashtrians over the past little over three years.”
“I told the Prime Minister during his recent visit to Mumbai that I wanted to be free of any political obligations and spend the rest of my life reading, writing, and doing other things. The Prime Minister has always shown me love and devotion, and I expect to experience the same in this regard,” Koshyari stated in the press release.
Koshyari was embroiled in controversy due to his many remarks and decisions, including describing the great Maratha emperor Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj as an icon of old times. After the backlash, in a letter dated December 12, 2022, to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Koshyari stated that he had the highest regard for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and had no intention to insult him.
Koshyari has had a string of controversies to his credit ever since he took over as the Governor in September 2019. He kicked up a row with his remarks about Mumbai’s status as the financial capital of the country.
Speaking at a function in Mumbai, he had said that “If Gujarati and Rajasthani people go away from Maharashtra, especially Mumbai and Thane, no money would be left. Then who will refer to Mumbai as a financial capital?”
Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s saga of controversies
It started with Koshyari officiating the swearing-in ceremony of Devendra Fadnavis (BJP) and Ajit Pawar (NCP) as the CM and the DCM, respectively, early in the morning on November 23, 2019. That government lasted for three days, and subsequently, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government was formed after the matter reached the Supreme Court.
He wrote a letter to the then CM Uddhav Thackeray asking why the places of worship, shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic, could not be opened and whether he had turned “secular.”
In November, the MVA Government recommended 12 names to be nominated as the state Legislative Council members. Koshyari kept his approval pending for over one-and-a-half years and even a Bombay High Court suggestion. The matter still remains unresolved.
The MVA Government denied Koshyari permission to use a state government VVIP aircraft to travel to Mussoorie (Dehradun, Uttarakhand) for a function, saying that the Raj Bhavan secretariat had not sought permission before Koshyari proceeded to board the flight at Mumbai airport.
The MVA government passed the Public Universities Act, Amendment Bill, curtailing the powers of the Governor in the appointment of the university Vice-Chancellors. The Governor, in his capacity as a Chancellor of state universities, makes appointments of vice-chancellors based on the recommendations of a committee.
At a function in Aurangabad, he said, “Many maharajas and chakravartis (emperors) were born on this land. But, who would have remembered Chandragupta had there not been Chanakya? Who would have asked about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had there not been Samarth (Ramdas).” The leaders disputed this, saying Samarth Ramdas was Shivaji’s spiritual Guru while Dadoji Konddeo was his political Guru.
He abruptly ended the joint presentation to the two houses of the Maharashtra legislature during the budget debate because BJP members were raising against arrested NCP member Nawab Malik.
Days later, during the unveiling of Savitribai Phule’s statute in Pune, he stated, “When Savitribai was ten years old, she was married off. and Jyotiba, her spouse, was 13 years old. Imagine what the boy and girl would have been doing after being married.”
Recently the MVA had also organised a morcha in Mumbai demanding that Koshyari be called back by the centre. Similarly, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s lineal descendent BJP MP Udayanraje Bhosale had also demanded his removal.
On Monday, almost all parties, except BJP and Eknath Shinde faction, welcomed Koshyari’s decision to quit but questioned his decision to write to the PM instead of the President of India since the Governor’s appointment is made by Presidential order.