MK Narayanan has resigned as the Governor of West Bengal after being questioned by the CBI in connection with an alleged swindle centered on the sale of 12 helicopters to India by AgustaWestland, an Anglo-Italian defence manufacturer.
Mr. Narayanan, 80, was interrogated for two hours as a witness on Friday at his official residence in Kolkata. He was in a pool of about 12 governors appointed by the previous government whose exit from office is being sought by the new Modi administration. Three have resigned already; Mr. Narayanan is the fourth.
Mr. Narayanan had completed four of his five-year term as West Bengal governor.
Mr. Narayanan was the National Security Advisor in 2005 and attended meetings where technical specifications were amended for the 12 helicopters that the government wanted to buy for the use of the Prime Minister and President among others. The changes ensured that AgustaWestland qualified for the contract.
The 3600-crore deal was signed in 2010. It was cancelled in January this year by India over allegations that kickbacks were paid by AgustaWestland and its parent company, Italian defence giant Finnmeccanica.
Mr. Narayanan’s resignation is expected to facilitate the Centre’s task of replacing the present set of governors, all of whom were appointed by the previous UPA government, with its own nominees. Tenures of two more governors came to an end on Saturday. Karnataka Governor HR Bhardwaj and his Tripura counterpart Devanand Konwar retired from their posts after completing their five-year terms.
Haryana Governor Jagannath Pahadia’s term is drawing to a close next month. There are indications that a few more governors would be handing over their resignations in the coming days.
The NDA government is expected to come out with its first list of governors before the budget session of Parliament gets underway on July 7. “I cannot rule out appointment of governors before Parliament session beginning July 7,” Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had told reporters on June 25.