Madhya Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel’s transfer to Uttar Pradesh in the gubernatorial reshuffle carried out on July 20, and her replacement in Bhopal by Bihar governor Lalji Tandon, has generated considerable interest in political quarters. For one, the move came as a surprise, as Patel seemed settled at the Bhopal Raj Bhawan, but on closer scrutiny, the political design behind the move is self-evident. Patel was appointed as the MP governor in January 2018 and brought with her, a number of firsts at the Raj Bhawan.
She threw open the gates of the governor’s residence for visits by common folk and during the time when Shivraj Singh Chouhan was Chief Minister, often called departmental secretaries and ministers for meeting. Chouhan — aware that Patel had been handpicked by PM Modi as his successor in Gujarat — did not see it as interference by Raj Bhawan and played along, perhaps to humour her. After the Kamal Nath-led Congress government came to power in December 2018, the requests for meetings with departmental secretaries and ministers stopped going out from Raj Bhawan, although the relationship between the governor and CM remained cordial.
Patel’s ‘promotion’ as UP governor, and her replacement in MP with someone like Tandon, is being seen in Bhopal as part of a larger political plan. Tandon, a veteran UP politician would be an asset if there is a Karnataka-like situation in MP. Presently, the Congress has 114 MLAs in a 230-member house and is supported by four independents, two BSP and one SP MLA. In case of MLAs not being comfortable with the current arrangement and attempting to find new political bosses, the role of the governor will assume significance.
Tandon fits the requirement better than Patel who, as minister, and later CM, in Gujarat, was known more for her administrative than political abilities. Moreover, UP has political stability but requires administrative nudging every now and then — a role Patel is better suited for especially with a non-confrontational BJP government in place. Tandon, 84, has served as a minister in UP, been a member of both houses in the state and won the Bhopal MP Sadhvi Pragya who said she wasn’t elected to clean drains. Lok Sabha elections from Lucknow in 2009 — replacing his political mentor, the late PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. A seasoned politician, Tandon will be Centre’s eyes and ears in Bhopal and his every move will be watched with great interest by the MP government.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)