Aziz Qureshi, the committed selfless leader who reached the gubernatorial post

Fought the NDA government to save the dignity of the prestigious position

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Highly qualified Aziz Qureshi served the best part of his life as the Congress leader, held many political and academic positions, reached the gubernatorial post during the UPA and NDA regimes and had to fight to save the dignity of the position writing a golden history before relinquishing his official duties and putting an end to the political career. Few can be compared with him as far as his political and academic careers are concerned. Not for his personal interest or material benefit, but for the sake of the post of Governor and its dignity, he had to approach the Supreme Court while some of his other colleagues submissively resigned when the regime change occurred in 2014.

It is an unhealthy political practice that when the  government changed at the centre, the new incumbent forces the Governors of former regime to tender their resignation and the highest posts are filled up with the persons of PM’s choice. Though the Governor represents the President of India and he is supposed to serve with the pleasure of the President, but according to the old practice, it the Prime Minister who keeps them under his thumb.

When the NDA came to power in 2014, the Governors who were appointed during the UPA government, were asked to quit. While some submitted themselves, Aziz Qureshi and few of his colleagues were adamant to stick to their posts. It was not their greed for the post, but the dignity of the office that was to be safeguarded. As the post has nothing to do with the political party, Aziz Qureshi offered his gratitude when he was given additional charge of Uttar Pradesh along with Uttarakhand, Aziz Qureshi gave credit of his appointment to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. He said entrusting him with the additional charge of Uttar Pradesh reflected clear thinking of the Prime Minister who had big heart.

He was committed to serve the new regime as he did in the past during the UPA government. However, the new regime was not prepared to bear with him perhaps only because his roots originated in the Congress. The NDA came to power in May, 2014 and in the month of December, the government put pressure on him to resign. However, the way the government adopted was not constitutionally fair. Home secretary Anil Goswami told him over phone to put his paper as the new government wanted new person in his post. He point blank refused to quit and approached the Supreme Court. He was represented by top lawyers Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid.

The government cut a sorry figure when the Supreme Court sought the Narendra Modi government’s view on the Home secretary’s suggestion to him to tender his resignation. Three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India R M Lodha asked the government whether it was fair that a Home secretary asked the Governor to put his papers and whether President’s pleasure could be conveyed to the Governor over phone. Aziz Qureshi’s petition contended that the Home secretary had no authority to call the Governor of a state who is his political superior.

It was the daring step of the Governor that he dragged the government to the court and this further provoked the displeasure of the centre. He was then shifted to Mizoram where he was informed by the President that “Qureshi shall cease to hold the office of the Governor of Mizoram”. This shows his fighting spirit to save the dignity of the post of Governor.

While serving as the Governor of Uttarakhand, he asked the government to revamp the functioning of the sole Sanskrit University based in Haridwar. He said even in Indonesia the classic language was being promoted but in India the university was left in the lurch.

Aziz Qureshi was born on April 24, 1940. He did MA in political science, Arabic and Urdu, completed LLB and was then awarded PhD. He was student leader and worked for the Youth Congress. Serving in various capacities, he was elected to the Madhya Pradesh assembly and served as a minister also. He was also Member of Parliament in the 8th Lok Sabha from Madhya Pradesh. He also served as head of the department of political science, Arobindo Arts and Law College. During his long career, he visited many foreign countries including United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Indonesia, UAE, Pakistan and others. He wrote a bright chapter in political and academic arena.

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