HYDERABAD: The last ten years were surely a roller-coaster for ESL Narasimhan.
He probably had not thought he would have to face so many odds when he took over as governor of undivided Andhra Pradesh on December 28, 2009.
After a decade of service, his term came to an end on Sunday when the Rashtrapati Bhavan issued a communique appointing Tamil Nadu BJP leader Tamilisai Soundararajan as the next incumbent.
ESL probably was the only governor not only to spend 10 long years at one place, but serve 12 years handling gubernatorial position and breaking all existing records.
At the same time, he probably is the only governor to receive bouquets and brickbats in equal measure from the same people at different times.
He would often say that governor is like a father who would want to settle the disputes between children when asked about how he would end Telangana conflict. Telangana Congress leaders used to slam him, TRS leaders once uprooted his mike, took away Budget papers from him, attacked him with paper missiles when he was reading out governor’s address at the Budget session of Assembly in 2011.
He took over as governor immediately after the then finance minister P Chidambaram took a U-turn from initiating the process of formation of Telangana State.
In fact, racks of storm clouds were forming over Telangana skies immediately after the death of the then CM YS Rajasekhar Reddy in a helicopter crash on September 2, 2009.
At a time when the people were thinking that the Centre had decided to form Telangana after Chidamabaram made an announcement on December 9 to this effect, they were in for a rude shock on December 23 when he said it was being kept on hold.
Forced to take decisions Telangana erutped like a volcano following Chidambaram’s statement even as Narasimhan was walking into his new home at Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad.
From the very first day, he knew the task was cut out for him very clearly and knew why he had been chosen for the assignment. From that day, it was like pilgrim’s progress for Narasimhan.
Though a government existed in AP, it was a lame duck, one with the governor being forced to, as the days went by, take some decisions on his won like summoning the paramilitary forces to crush the Telangana movement that was spreading like the wrath of God across the State.
In 2013, when ESL had completed a five-year term (two years in Chhattisgarh and three in AP), the Centre renewed his term, sending a strong signal that ESL, the tough policeman in governor’s clothes, will be around, which meant that the people in Telangana could kiss goodbye for a separate State dream.
Opposition to ESL grew and it was there all over in Telangana since the day he took over, and Telangana leaders of both the Congress and the Telugu Desam as well as those of the TRS suspecting every move that ESL had taken in addressing the growing unrest.
The leaders suspected foul play in the activities of ESL and were always under the impression that he was sending reports to the Centre that division of the State was not advisable as it might lead to a resurgence of Maoist movement.
They even used to refer to ESL reportedly telling the Centre that the during ‘sakala janula sammme’ in September and October of 2011, the naxalite activity had grown. When the tide turned As the time moved on, the agitation for Telangana became intense with TDP Telangana leaders describing him as Ravanasura and Congress leaders slamming him that he was working out and out against Telangana movement.
TJAC leader M Kodandaram always used to suspect the motives of actions of the governor in calling forces and TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao going for Congress’ jugular for delaying the formation of Telangana State and calling the Congress and TDP leaders to account for not revolting against their bosses for toeing anti-Telangana line.
Finally when the tide turned, it was ESL once again who had to prime the Centre with necessary facts for dividing the State.
The GoM that was appointed in 2013 to go into the issue of bifurcation, took the opinion of ESL. The governor had an in camera session with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi where he explained to her the pros and cons of division of the State.
In fact, this action of governor had drawn sharp reaction from Andhra leaders of TDP who questioned whether it was right for him to meet the leaders of political parties. Record difficult to break.
He also had the distinction of being the man calling the shots when the State went under president’s rule for a brief spell from May 1 till June 1, 2014, after the bifurcation of the State and before the installation of popularly elected governments in the two Telugu states.
After formation of Telangana State, he continued as the governor of the two states, a rare honour for him.
He continued serving the two states and in the process the chief ministers of the two states had reposed faith in him, till 2018 recently when friendly Chandrababu Naidu turned against him, dubbing him as an agent of the Centre out to corner him while Telangana chief minister had new found love in ESL for his cooperation in taking the State forward.
But in the recent months, the relations with KCR seemed to have strained. KCR is understood to have been ill at ease with ESL for lending his shoulder to the BJP’s moves to scuttle TRS.
All said and done, Narasimhan’s record is difficult to break. He was governor of Maoist-infested State, was governor of AP when Telangana passions were running very high, was governor of both the states after division of AP and was governor of Telangana after a new governor was posted for AP recently. A rare achievement.