Behind every governor’s transfer, there has been a lengthy political debate and apt calculation. These days in India, Governors are no more cosmetic heads of the State. They play a critical role in various manoeuvrings and manipulations as we all know.
The appointment of Mangubhai Chhaganbhai Patel, 77, as the Governor of MadhyaPradesh is highly significant and as main stream media would often use, the much maligned word, a Modi Masterstroke.
Eight States in India have new Governors and the political calculations behind each of them are interesting. Let us first look at Madhya Pradesh Governor Mangubhai Patel.
Mangubhai, now 77 plus joined the RSS as a child. RSS ideology guides him. He is a patient man, a seasoned politician and an obedient RSS man who has never raised his hand for any particular post or position.
Mangubhai is a former Gujarat minister, a former deputy speaker and a senior BJP MLA who played a crucial role in Hinduisation of Gujarat among the tribals. While the tribal population in India is about 8.61% in India, it is over 14.75% in Gujarat. Chhattisgarh accounts for over 32.2% and Madhya Pradesh over 21.1%. Mangubhai is a tribal. His community is spread across Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and even Konkan coast. As a tribal, with Madhyapradesh going to polls in 2023, his appointment is a well thought decision.
Tribals in Gujarat were considered an exclusive Congress belt. The tribals here do not understand or believe in any third front. For decades it was Congress only for them. But over the decades, the loyalty has shifted to the BJP. The Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra is one of the major reasons for this. “ghar vaapsi” of tribals to Hinduism has been undertaken massively and in Gujarat out of 182 seats, tribals singularly decide over 27 seats. They have a considerable influence over another 56 seats. This is where Mangubhai comes into picture. For the last 65 years, Mangubhai has been relentlessly working with tribals. When Assemanand settled down in Gujarat for the Vanvasi Kelavani Yojna, a tribal welfare scheme and schools, it was Mangubhai who ensured that Assemanand was established well. Mangubhai has been a five time MLA and a three time minister. During his ministership tenure, he always handled tribal affairs of Gujarat. He has three daughters and is a school drop out.
Mangubhai is known to underpromise and over deliver. He has been a consistent winner in his constituency and practises staunch RSS philosophy and ideology. He works quietly and does not like to be much under the media radar. He is more committed to the RSS than the BJP but knows to balance their demands beautifully.
With Gujarat elections coming up in 2022 and Madhyapradesh’s in 2023, it has become essential to have a governing figure who sparkles hope of a better future with the BJP in tribal communities, Unlike Gujarat, where most of the tribals have been Sanskritized and sensitised towards Hindutva, this exercise has to be taken up with gusto in Madhya Pradesh. With a 21.1% tribal population in MP, the BJP High Command feels that Chief Minister Shivrajsingh Chohan has not been able to handle them or “convert” them towards the Saffron style of living and voting. Chhattisgarh, a neighbouring State, also has a tribal governor,Ansuiya Uike.
Mangubhai will be able to control and bring the tribal population under his influence, the High Command believes, considering Mangubhai’s experience and achievements. Ever since he was a child, Mangubhai Patel got attracted to the RSS. He was born in 1944 and he recalls being attracted to RSS since his childhood. As the 19th governor of Madhya Pradesh, he will be able to contribute effectively to tribal empowerment in Madhya Pradesh. Mangubhai Patel has been a member of the BJP ever since the party was conceived in the 80’s. He was one of the key persons who had convinced Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani to set up something like Akhil Bhartiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram to what he believed, “freeing the tribals from Christian conversions”.
While releasing the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram’s vision document in mid 90’s,Mangubhai had openly said, “In Dangs, they (christians) distributed sugar and wheat to lure and thereafter convert poor tribal people to Christianity, (but) we led a revolution and today I can say for sure that conversion has stopped.” It must be recalled that in 1998, when christians who reportedly declined to convert to Hinduism were threatened and attacked; Mangubhai’s name along with Aseemananad were being discussed as people behind this ploy.
But once Narendra Modi became the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001, Mangubhai got much encouragement and he started focusing on issues of tribal welfare, along with of course stopping their conversion. A reverse conversion process was launched and thousands of tribals embraced Hinduism under the vision of Mangubhai and execution by Swami Aseemanand. Connection between Ram and Shabri,the tribal bhakt who ate the berries of Ram to determine its sweetness were recalled to establish how the tribals were an important part of the Ram Rajya in the past. This worked marvelously in Gujarat.
But that was not the only thing. Mangubhai’s biggest contribution was to make loans easily accessible for tribal youth and to arrange special classes for competitive examinations. Over 500 tribal youths were given Rs 15 lac each loans , and over 35 boys and girls from remote tribal areas became pilots. At least 40 girls became air hostesses too. Mangubhai ensured that at least a thousand youth cleared the relatively difficult GUJCET examinations for entrance to medical and engineering colleges in Gujarat.
“Mangubhai Patel’s biggest achievement with help from the BJP led Gujarat government, he had said, was that tribals had stopped converting to Christians. Mangubhai played the most critical role in framing this vision document which was then released in New Delhi and almost all States with sizable tribal population.
Why is this appointment a master stroke?
Mangubhai’s appointment as MP Governor is a master stroke because he is a genius at overseeing tribal welfare and innovating tribal policies. Also his appointment will more than impress tribals of his own type located in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Konkan, Gujarat and interestingly Maharashtra. Also it helps Gujarat BJP in the 2022 State Elections to impress the 14.65plus percentage of tribals in Gujarat. Earlier, till 2007, tribals voted blindly for Congress.
Mangubhai belongs to the Kukna tribal community which is also known as Kokna, Kukna and Kokni. Their maximum habitat is from the Sahyadri-Saputara ranges of Maharashtra and Gujarat. They are believed to have originated in the Konkan patti of Thane district. They are recognized as a scheduled tribe in the Indian states of Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. in Gujarat, this tribe which was nature worshipping one has moved on worshipping Hindu deities now.
Fun fact: Both Gujarat BJP President C R Patil and now MP governor Mangubhai Patel are from Navsari in Gujarat. It is also the birthplace of Tata Group founder Jamsed ji Tata.
- Thawarchand Gehlot has been appointed as Governor of Karnataka
- Hari babu Kambhampati has been appointed as Governor of Mizoram
- Mangubhai Chaganbhai Patel has been appointed as Governor of Madhya Pradesh
- Rajendran Vishwanath Arlekar has been appointed as Governor of Himachal Pradesh
- PS Sreedharan Pillai has been transferred & appointed as Governor of Goa
- Satyadev Narayan Arya has been transferred and appointed as Governor of Tripura
- Bandaru Dattatreya has been appointed as Governor of Haryana
- Ramesh Bais has been transferred as Governor of Jharkhand
In a sharp political decision, keeping in mind the forthcoming Assembly elections and to maintain political balance, governors of several States were shuffled.
Thawarchand Gehlot has been designated as governor of Karnataka, Bandaru Dattatreya is the new governor of Haryana.
Dattatreya, who was incharge of Himachal Pradesh, will now take the position in Haryana, while Gehlot is presently the cabinet minister of social justice.
Others who have been appointed are Andhra Pradesh BJP leader Hari Babu Kambhampati, who has been given charge of Mizoram, BJP leader from Gujarat Mangubhai Chhaganbhai will be new governor of Madhya Pradesh, Goa’s forest and environment minister Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar will head Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram governor PS Sreedharan Pillai is now in-change of Goa, BJP leader from Bihar and Haryana governor Satyadev Narayan Arya of Tripura and Union minister in Vajpayee cabinet and Tripura governor Ramesh Bais has been moved to Jharkhand.
President Ram Nath Kovind’s office said that the above appointments will take effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices.