A look at the top controversies surrounding Bhagat Singh Koshyari, often in the eye of the storm.
Since assuming charge as the governor of Maharashtra in September 2019, Bhagat Singh Koshyari has not been a stranger to controversies, often evoking strong reactions from opposition parties. As he steps down as governor of Maharashtra and Jharkhand governor Ramesh Bais is set to take charge, a look at the top five controversies surrounding the 81-year-old, often in the eye of the storm.
- After he took over as governor in September 2019, Koshyari first drew criticism for quickly lifting the President’s rule and early morning hush-hush swearing-in of Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar as chief minister and deputy chief minister in November 2019. As the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) was preparing to form the government following the Sena’s decision to part ways with the BJP, Fadnavis along with Ajit Pawar-led breakaway NCP faction formed the government, which lasted for less than three days. Koshyari was in the news again for losing his temper during the oath-taking ceremony of MVA ministers in September 2019 when ministers deviated from protocol by adding their own words to the written oath. He even forced Congress minister K C Padvi to take oath again.
- The two-and-half-year-long tenure of the Uddhav Thackeray government saw many acrimonious exchanges between Koshyari and the MVA leaders. The closure of temples while bars and other commercial establishments remained open during the Covid lockdown saw Koshyari taking a jibe at Thackeray asking if he had become secular. In February 2021, the governor was forced to deboard state-owned aircraft to travel to Mussoorie after being denied permission by the chief minister’s office to board. He then had to take a commercial flight.
- In July last year, Koshyari sparked a row while stating that Mumbai would no longer be the financial capital of the country if Gujaratis and Marwaris were not part of the state. While inaugurating a chowk named after late Shantidevi Champalalji Kothari in Andheri, he said, “If Gujaratis and Rajasthanis are removed from Maharashtra, especially Mumbai and Thane, no money would be left here.” He later apologised for his comments after facing backlash from several quarters, including chief minister Eknath Shinde, who distanced himself from Koshyari’s statement.
- A video of Koshyari went viral in March 2022 in which he was allegedly mocking the child marriage of social reformers Jyotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule. Savitribai was married off at the age of 10 and her husband was 13-year-old at that time. “Imagine what the boy and girl would have been doing..thinking after marriage?” he reportedly said, which was slammed by the opposition.
- In February 2022, Koshyari stirred controversy at an event organized by Samarth Sahitya Parshad in Aurangabad while remarking that Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj would have been nothing without his guru Samarth Ramdas. He said, “What would we have known about Shivaji Maharaj without Samarth Ramdas.”
In November the same year, at a convocation in Aurangabad, he again courted controversy for calling Shivaji Maharaj a ‘hero of the past era’. He added that Maharashtra may look up to ‘icons’ like Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar or Nitin Gadkari in the present times. Maratha organisations and opposition leaders condemned the remarks and demanded recall of the governor. “In school… we would name our favourite leaders as Subhash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru….Maharashtra is full of such tall leaders. Shivaji has become the hero of the past era. You can find the present heroes right here from Dr BR Ambedkar to (union minister) Nitin Gadkari,” he said.