New Delhi: Kamla Beniwal's sacking as Mizoram governor was approved by President Pranab Mukherjee, who reportedly said in a hand-written response that he was "satisfied" with the government's evidence against her.
Top government sources say Mr Mukherjee's sanction blunts the opposition Congress' allegation of "vendetta politics" behind the exit of Ms Beniwal, who had sharp differences with Narendra Modi, when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Sources say Prime Minister Modi told the President that Ms Beniwal had to be removed. When the President sought evidence, the government sent him a dossier with three specific allegations. (Behind Governor Kamla Beniwal's Sacking, A Three-Charge Dossier Sent To President)
The main charge against Ms Beniwal involves a land scam in Rajasthan, sources say. She is accused of claiming cheap land after falsely stating in an affidavit in 2012 that she had tilled the land for 14 to 16 hours a day for 50 years, though in that time she had been Rajasthan minister and governor.
The other allegation is that the 87-year-old spent just one day in Mizoram, where she was posted a month ago, and mostly stayed in Rajasthan, her home state.
The third charge is that Ms Beniwal frequently used the state aircraft in Gujarat, where she was governor till July. She reportedly took the nine-seat Beechcraft 53 times to fly to Jaipur.
The President, sources say, agreed to remove Ms Beniwal only after he was convinced that the decision complied with a 2010 Supreme Court judgement that bars the mass removal of governors for political reasons but allows their sacking on specific grounds.
The Congress alleges that Ms Beniwal was "punished" for taking on Mr Modi in Gujarat, the state he ruled for 13 years before taking charge as Prime Minister in May. As Gujarat governor, Ms Beniwal had challenged the Modi government on a series of issues including the appointment of a Lokayukta, or anti-corruption ombudsman.
"If there were corruption charges, she should have been given a chance to respond to them. But there is no chargesheet, no conviction. Why all the secrecy? Is this the pre-judicial justice BJP believes in?" Congress leader Manish Tewari said today.