Won't Resign, Says Arunachal Governor J.P. Rajkhowa After Centre Tells Him to Step Down

According to Rajkhowa, he was asked to resign because of his "ill health", though his treatment is complete and he has returned to work.

New Delhi: Arunachal Pradesh governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa has refused to resign from his post even though the Centre had informally asked him to do so a few days ago, media reports said. The government had stated that his ill health was the reason he was being asked tor resign.

The situation in Arunachal became embarrassing for the Centre after the July 13 Supreme Court order to reinstate the Congress government in the state, which castigated Rajkhowa for overstepping his constitutional powers. This must have led the government to seek his resignation unofficially.

Two days before the Supreme Court was to give its judgment, Rajkhowa was reportedly asked to go on leave “on health grounds” and Tripura governor Tathagata Roy was sworn in as acting Arunachal governor. The present Congress chief minister Pema Khandu was sworn in by Roy on July 17.

News of the Centre wanting Rajkhowa to step down on “health grounds” was reported by the Indian Express on September 3. On September 5, the former Assam chief secretary confirmed the news to a Guwahati-based news channel DY365. He told the channel that he was contacted by a private individual from Guwahati on August 29 and was told to put in his papers by August 31.

“I was shocked, surprised and felt humiliated. I asked the person to inform whoever in the government wants me to quit, to call me directly. When there was no such call, I called up Union home minister Rajnath Singh and asked if it was true. But the home minister clearly told me over telephone that he knew nothing about it. Instead, he started telling me that I was doing very good work in Arunachal Pradesh.”

He said, “But when I called up another minister at the Centre, he called me back on August 30 and said that a decision had been taken at a higher level for me to resign on health grounds.”

Rajkhowa, who took over as Arunachal governor in June last year, told DY365, “I told the minister that I had returned after treatment 47 days ago and I have been at work since August 13. I also told him that I am totally fit now. What is my fault that I have been asked to go on medical or health grounds?”

He, however, reiterated that he would not step down on his own. “I will not resign. I want them to dismiss me…let the president express his displeasure. Let the government use provisions of Article 156 of the constitution.” As per Article 156, the governor shall hold office “during the pleasure of the president”. If Rajkhowa doesn’t resign, the Union cabinet will have to recommend his dismissal to the president who will then issue the order.

Presently in Guwahati, 71-year-old Rajkhowa told the channel that he had instructed his office in Itanagar to inform him “at once” if such an order is received from New Delhi. “I have kept all my belongings packed since August 30. I will not stay even one minute after that,” he told the channel.

Atum Potum, the public relations officer to the governor at Raj Bhavan in Itanagar, told The Wire on Tuesday, “We have not received any order from New Delhi regarding the dismissal of the governor.”

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