BJP governors
Where are the governors? Participants at the BJP's Regional Consultative Meeting in Hyderabad on July 9. Image: Twitter/@BJP4India

Governors should be upset...why were they not invited to Hyderabad BJP event?

Governors of non-BJP States like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have every right to feel aggrieved and upset over the denial of invitation to participate in Sunday’s southern zone meeting of the BJP at Hyderabad to chalk out the party strategy for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

One may well ask what the governors have got to do with a conclave of a political party. But the BJP is not just another party. And the governors in states where the BJP is not in power are more into the day-to-day politics of the state and playing the BJP card than the state party presidents themselves are.

Things have come to such a pass that Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai has openly criticised Governor RN Ravi of dabbling in politics, and said in the public domain that the governor should not make political utterances, almost every day. Annamalai has thus echoed a charge made by leaders of the DMK and its allies who have accused Governor Ravi of behaving and functioning like the state president of the BJP. Apparently, all is not well between Annamalai and Ravi.

Also read: Ravi unfit to be Governor, ‘threat’ to TN’s peace: Stalin writes to President Murmu

BJP sources say Annamalai is upset over the Governor trying to hog the limelight by making controversial and political statements against the DMK government in the state. These statements have sought to push Annamalai to the background when he is trying to make a distinct impression that the state is witnessing a confrontation between Chief Minister MK Stalin and himself. Instead, the statements and actions of the Governor over the past year or so have projected Governor Ravi as the main opponent of Stalin and the DMK.

Annamalai’s angst

 Annamalai has been striving hard over the past few months to show that the tussle in the state is mainly between the DMK and the BJP led by him. This has also become a source of friction with the BJP ally, the AIADMK, as the latter feels that Annamalai is trying to render the AIADMK irrelevant in Tamil Nadu.

On the other hand, the Tamil Nadu Governor has received a big boost with his Telangana counterpart Tamilisai Soundararajan backing his political statements, and her declaration that governors can indulge in politics. She has justified political activity by governors.

Also read: Raj Bhavan tales: Jagan-Harichandan bonhomie vs KCR-Tamilisai feud

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan already has a running battle with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, with the latter accusing him of being an active politician at the behest of the BJP. Similarly, Telangana Chief Minister Chandrashekar Rao had also hit out at Soundararajan for working like a BJP leader.

Governors sent with a mission

There is nothing wrong with governors having political aspirations. The right thing to do, however, is to give up their posts and participate in elections with a BJP ticket, and strive to become chief ministers. The only risk they run is they could come up against a governor who believes he or she has more powers than an elected chief minister (never mind what the Constitution says).

On the contrary, what the BJP has done is to pick up failed candidates and elevate them to high positions with the promise and backing that they could behave like the chief ministers of the states where they are posted as governors. The list is endless. Kiran Bedi, who failed in the fight for chief ministership in the Delhi elections, was rewarded with the post of LG in Puducherry, where she behaved not just like a CM but a Czar.

Tamilisai Soundararajan, L Ganesan, and CP Radhakrishnan — all from Tamil Nadu who failed to get elected to the Lok Sabha, but have become governors. Was it a case of kicking them upstairs so that the state BJP chiefs had a free run without interference from senior party leaders in Tamil Nadu, or was it a message to politicians in other parties that they could have a lucrative career in the BJP if they crossed floors? It’s apparent that governors have been sent to states by the BJP with a specific political mission.

Also read: Administration suffers as Kerala Governor and VCs fight over appointments

With such BJP governors making no bones about their political activism and their determination to play the political card, the BJP zonal meet in Hyderabad didn’t have the participation of such key BJP players as their governors! This is not just a tongue-in-cheek remark as it’s well known that the BJP strategy in all these states is largely driven by the PMO, Home Ministry, and the governors. Therefore, the BJP strategy being worked out by the party chiefs in these states is an incomplete exercise, and the real strategy will be chalked out by the Raj Bhavans.

One wonders if the Home Minister would convene a separate conclave with these BJP governors and discuss with them the inputs of Sunday’s Hyderabad meeting, and then finalise the Lok Sabha strategy.

(The writer is a senior journalist)

(The Federal seeks to present views and opinions from all sides of the spectrum. The information, ideas or opinions in the articles are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Federal)

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