PM Asks Assam Governor to Demit Office

In the wake of CBI raids which are said to have affirmed reports of alleged corruption in the Jharkhand Raj Bhavan under Syed Sibtey Razi’s watch, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked Razi to demit office. He is presently Assam Governor.

According to a senior officer in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Singh asked Razi to relinquish office on health grounds at a meeting on August 11, but Razi insisted on time till October when his five-year term comes to an end. Also, he reportedly told the PM that he needed time to explain his position to party president Sonia Gandhi.

Official said that Singh, nevertheless, insisted in the five minute meeting that Razi put in his papers and then approach high command for rehabilitation. Later that night, Razi called on Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to reiterate his stand.

Sources said that Singh took resort to “moral persuasion” in the case, for an official recall order involves complex process – notification by the President following recommendation of the Union Cabinet – which would have certainly been quite embarrassing to the UPA government.

They said that Razi – who was sworn in as Assam Governor on July 27 – had also sought time from Home Minister P Chidambaram on August 7 to give his side of the story even though the request is ostensibly to discuss corruption in North East Council, the nodal agency for economic and social development in the North-eastern states. He has been given time tomorrow evening, sources added.

However, Razi’s request for a meeting with Sonia Gandhi has not come through, they said.

The UPA government shunted Razi from Jharkhand to Assam on July 18 after then IB’s Ranchi station-in-charge Janardan Singh confirmed an ex-MLA’s complaint to the PMO of alleged corruption involving the Governor and his staff.

A week after new governor K Sankaranarayanan took charge of Jharkhand, the CBI raided the houses of his former aides — Rajesh Thakur who was personal secretary since Razi took over as Governor in 2004 and IAS officer Avinash Kumar who joined as Officer on Special Duty after President’s Rule was imposed in Jharkhand in January this year. Both are under the scanner for having amassed assets allegedly disproportionate to their income.

Immediately after the raids, the BJP demanded a CBI probe into Razi’s assets and sought his dismissal. BJP Jharkhand president Raghubar Das had then alleged that Razi took bribes for the transfer and posting of officials and misused funds meant for 34th National Games to be held in Jharkhand. The state is likely to go for assembly polls in October-November along with Maharashtra and Haryana.

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