Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s expected cabinet expansion, a different shuffle saw seven governors swapping states and Union Minister Thawarchand Gehlot becoming a governor.
Thawarchand Gehlot, 83, will take over as Governor of Karnataka. He was Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment and also the BJP’s Rajya Sabha leader. His shift creates a vacancy in the government just before the cabinet changes.
PS Sreedharan Pillai, the Governor of Mizoram, has been moved to Goa.
Satyadev Narayan Arya, Haryana Governor, will shift to Tripura. Tripura Governor Ramesh Bais has been transferred to Jharkhand.
Bandaru Dattatraya, the Governor of Himachal Pradesh, will take over as Governor of Haryana.
Hari Babu Kambhampati will be Mizoram Governor.
Mangubhai Chhaganbhai Patel will be Governor of Madhya Pradesh.
Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar has been named Governor of Himachal Pradesh.
Sources called the new appointments an exercise in according “respect and dignity to all” sections.
There are a “record number of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Class (OBC) governors, said sources.
“Three Jat leaders are currently serving as governors – such respect is unparalleled,” a BJP leader said.
Among them, Jagdeep Dhankar, the Governor of West Bengal, has had a controversial term dominated by run-ins with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Acharya Devvrat (Gujarat) and Satyapal Malik (Meghalaya) are also from the Jat community.
Besides Mr Gehlot, other senior leaders from the Scheduled Caste community made Governor are Rajendra Arlekar, Satyadev Narayan Arya and Baby Rani Maurya (current Uttarakhand Governor).
According to the BJP, Governors Mangubhai Patel and Anysuiya Uikey represent tribal communities.
Key governorships are held by leaders who have worked for OBC aspirations, said BJP leaders.
Phagu Chauhan, the Governor of Bihar, belongs to the Lonia community.
Others representing tribals are Ramesh Bais, Bandaru Dattatraya, Ganga Prasad Chaurasiya and Tamilisai Soundararajan.
BJP leaders also pointed to leading Muslim faces who are Governors – Arif Mohammad Khan (Kerala) and Najma Heptulla (Manipur).