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Suspense mounts as governors refuse to go

New Delhi: The suspense over the fate of several governors continued Wednesday as they betrayed no sign of stepping down voluntarily, while the Congress attacked the BJP-led central government for "political vendetta" against UPA-era appointees.

While Kerala Governor Sheila Dikshit evaded questions on her next move, her West Bengal counterpart M.K. Narayanan said resignation was not on his mind.

"I have not yet resigned. I am not obliged to tell you what I am doing," Narayanan Wednesday told a battery of journalists who sought to know if he was under pressure to exit Raj Bhavan.

Narayanan and Dikshit are among the governors who have reportedly been asked by union Home Secretary Anil Goswami to quit.

Whereas Dikshit Tuesday dismissed such reports as "rumours", Uttar Pradesh Governor B.L. Joshi submitted his resignation after a call from the central government.

President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday accepted Joshi's resignation and Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi has been given additional charge of the state.

Joshi, a retired Indian Police Service officer, had assumed charge as the Uttar Pradesh governor in 2009. He put in his papers Tuesday after the union home ministry sounded him on the subject.

H.R. Bhardwaj, Kamla Beniwal, Margaret Alva, and K. Sankaranarayanan, the governors of Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra, are said to be the ones on the Narendra Modi government's list of targets.

The National Democratic Alliance government has not made public its desire to ease these dignitaries out of office, Sankarnarayanan in Mumbai said Wednesday he would contemplate quitting if asked by an "appropriate authority".

"No post is permanent in a democracy. If a person having appropriate authority calls me (asking to quit), then I will certainly think over it," Maharashtra Raj Bhavan sources quoted the 82-year-old Sankaranarayanan as saying.

They said Goswami called Sankaranarayanan two days ago. He is serving his second term as governor of the state since Jan 22, 2010.

"The union home secretary called the governor two days ago with the message (to quit). The governor spoke to some media persons and made his reaction known," a Raj Bhavan source said.

Reacting to the developments, senior Congress leader M. Veerappa Moily said the NDA government's move to change UPA-appointed governors was condemnable and amounted to insulting the Constitution.

"The manner in which it is being done, it has to be condemned. It amounts to insulting the Indian Constitution, not the person occupying constitutional post," he told reporters in Bangalore.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, attacked the Modi government on the issue Tuesday, saying that the National Democratic Alliance was indulging in political vendetta instead of fulfilling its promises.

The Congress is taking on the central government on this issue tooth and nail, citing a 2010 Supreme Court ruling which underlined that a change in government was not a ground for removal of governors.

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