M A I N   N E W S

Patil to be Punjab Governor
Narayanan for WB, Prabha Rau off to Rajasthan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 16
Former Home Minister Shivraj V Patil would be the new Governor of Punjab. President Pratibha Patil today issued a formal notification to appoint new governors to eight states. While National Security Adviser MK Narayanan is being sent off as Governor to West Bengal, thus ending his five-year stint as security boss of the country, deputy NSA Sekhar Dutt would be handling a gubernatorial assignment in Chhattisgarh, a state hit by Maoist violence.

Patil, 73, has been picked out of hibernation to replace Gen SF Rodrigues (Retd), whose tenure ended on November 16 last. Importantly, Patil will also hold additional charge as Administrator of the Union Territory of Chandigarh. This was done after a great deal of deliberations as the Home Ministry was keen on having a chief commissioner system to run the UT and discontinue the 25-year practice of Punjab Governor holding the additional charge of Chandigarh. However, political leaders from Punjab pressed upon the Prime Minister to allow continuation of the present system.

A loyalist of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Patil has held several positions in the government since he was elected MLA in Maharashtra for the first time in 1972. He has remained a Union minister and Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

Former Chief Minister of Pudducherry MOH Farooq will be the new Governor of Jharkhand from where K Sankaranarayan is being shifted to Maharashtra to replace SC Jamir, whose tenure ended a couple of months ago but had been continuing. Senior Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh Urmila Singh will be the new Governor of Himachal Pradesh from where Prabha Rau is being moved to Rajasthan. The vacancy in Rajasthan has arisen following the death of SK Singh in December.

Notably, the important shift is of two security czars — Narayanan and Dutt.

Dutt, a former defence secretary, started his career in the Army. He was a Captain while he quit and was selected into the IAS. After having retired from the civil services, he worked as the deputy NSA. In Chhattisgarh, Dutt replaces ESL Narasimhan, who has been moved to Andhra Pradesh Raj Bhavan. Narsimhan is a former director of the Intelligence Bureau and was given the additional charge of Andhra Pradesh following the inglorious exit of ND Tiwari last month.

The big change, however, would be the appointment of 75-year-old MK Narayanan, another former IB chief, as Governor of West Bengal.

Narayanan’s exit, meanwhile, has created a vacancy for the post of NSA. The government is considering demarcating the post into two clear parts — one for internal security and the other for external security. The external duties were likely to fall on the shoulders of former foreign secretaries Shyam Saran or Shivshankar Menon. In the past, another foreign services officer, Brajesh Mishra, has held the post of NSA during the BJP-led NDA rule. And the internal security duties were likely to be thrust upon a person from the police or armed forces, with Home Minister P. Chidamabaram having made it clear that he wanted someone with “deep knowledge” to control the internal security operations.



Blamed, damned, absolved in 14 months: Deshmukh, Patil, ex-IB chief
Ajay Banerjee/ TNS

New Delhi, January 16
Less than 14 months ago, the Union Government cracked the whip and showed it was fixing responsibility for the November 26, 2008, Mumbai carnage. Several among the top leadership were removed from their respective posts following intense public and media pressure seeking action for various omissions and commissions.

However, it seems all those leaders have completed their “terms of punishment”, in just 14 months.

Hibernation has ended and they are back at the helm - rather rehabilitated - in various capacities. Today, the Congress-led UPA regime rehabilitated, the last of the leaders who had been sacked unceremoniously in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks.

Shivraj Patil is listed to be elevated as a Governor and is most likely headed for Punjab. The Congress core committee has cleared his name and the Ministry of Home has forwarded the list to President Pratibha Patil for a formal notification.

Patil was the Union Home Minister at the time of Mumbai attacks and was replaced by P Chidambaram as public anger poured onto the streets. Since then, he had been leading a low-profile life as a Rajya Sabha member, rarely speaking in the House. With just a few months to go for his six-year tenure in the Upper House, Patil, once he is appointed, will enjoy the strappings of power for five more years.

Actually, to be fair to Shivraj Patil, he has been out of action the longest. The others to be sacked with him were back at the helm even earlier. The so-called action against them had been undone within months.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh was asked by the Congress high command to quit on December 1, 2008. He, along with his actor son Ritiesh Deshmukh and movie director Ram Gopal Varma, made rounds of the battered Taj hotel. His visit to the Taj hotel with his son and the film director was dubbed as “terror tourism”.

Just six months down the line, the Congress made him Union minister on May 27, 2009, and handed him the plum “heavy industries” portfolio. Politically, it was seen as a surprise comeback and it was his first tenure in the Union Cabinet.

RR Patil, Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra and leader of the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), was asked to quit on November 30, 2008. Just 11 months after that, in October, 2009, the Maharashtra Assembly went to the polls and RR Patil was reappointed to the same post.

PC Haldar, who was the Director of the Intelligence Bureau when the attacks took place, was allowed a graceful exit. He superannuated in due course a month after the attacks on December 31, 2008. In October this year, the government again reposed faith in Haldar and appointed him interlocutor for talks with rebels in Assam.

Just a month ago, when the Ram Pradhan Committee report was tabled in the Maharashtra Assembly, Vilasrao Deshmukh sought action against officials saying “politicians had faced action while officials escaped”.



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