Former Union Minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader from Secunderabad, Bandaru Dattatreya, was appointed as the Governor of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday. He replaces outgoing Governor Kalraj Mishra, who was transferred to Rajasthan.
A local strongman, Dattatreya is a long-time loyalist of the BJP. He joined the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) in the 60s. Between 1981 to 1989 he served as the General Secretary of the BJP’s Andhra Pradesh unit.
He was first elected as an MP from Secunderabad in 1991 and went on to serve as the President of the Andhra BJP between 1996 and 1998. In 1998, he became an MP again and served as a Union Minister of State, Urban Development, in the Vajpayee government.
He continued to serve as a Union Minister of State, in different ministries, until 2004, following which he was made a National Secretary of the BJP.
He served as the BJP National Vice president in 2013 and was re-elected as an MP from Secunderabad in 2014, after two consecutive losses in 2004 and 2009.
He was allotted the portfolio of Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Labour and Employment in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, but was removed from the post in September 2017, before he completed his full term.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he was denied a ticket by the party. G Kishan Reddy contested and won from the BJP in his seat, and has been made the Minister of State (MoS) Home Affairs in the present cabinet.
Dattatreya is also an accused in the death of Rohith Vemula, a Dalit research scholar from the University of Hyderabad (UoH), who killed himself on campus in January 2016 alleging caste discrimination.
After a spat between two student group on campus in the sequence of events leading to Rohith’s death, Dattatreya had written to the then MHRD Minister Smriti Irani seeking her intervention, stating that the University had become a “den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics”.
At the time, the Gachibowli police registered a case under Section 306 (Abetment to suicide) of the IPC and under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against Dattatreya, UoH Vice Chancellor P Appa Rao Podile, and others.
In a reshuffle on Sunday, President Ramnath Kovind announced new governors for five states in the country. The Centre has appointed Tamil Nadu BJP Chief Tamilisai Soundrarajan as the new Telangana Governor.