‘I’ve always lived with my head held high’
Your feelings on being appointed the governor of Andhra Pradesh?
Yes I am happy. This is a high point of my career. I was in active politics for such a long time. Now towards the end I have been entrusted with a constitutional responsibility. I hope to carry out this responsibility with the required dignity.
For quite some time your name was being discussed in the political circles as a gubernatorial candidate. You have had such a long and illustrious political career that only this kind of an appointment would have capped it fittingly. But still it is pertinent to ask whether the appointment came as a surprise.
Not really. I won’t say it was unexpected. I think something on these lines was being discussed. After talking to the Prime Minister recently I, too, had a feeling that something could happen.
This appointment marks the culmination of your career. Do you have any other ambition left?
No, I think I have got almost everything. Lord Jagannath has been kind to me. I had a long political career during which I became a minister several times. I did my best for the development of Odisha, its culture. That gives me immense satisfaction. What more I could have asked for?
Your appointment as governor is proof that Prime Minister Narendra Modi attaches great importance to Odisha and values leaders from this state. Your comments?
It is true that the Prime Minister is keen to see Odisha as a developed state. He accords importance to the state. We should be thankful to him for this.
Odisha and Andhra Pradesh have great cultural similarities. Both states are also richly endowed with natural beauty and have great potential for development of tourism. We hope that cultural ties between the two states become stronger during your tenure as the governor of Andhra Pradesh.
Yes, there are cultural similarities between the two states and the stronger their cultural ties become, the better.
But there are also disputes between the two states. For example the border dispute over Kotia group of villages and the Polavaram multi-purpose project controversy. Odisha is opposing the project as it threatens to submerge several tribal-dominated villages in Malkangiri district. How do you see this?
It is for the two governments and the two chief ministers to sit and sort out these issues.
Andhra Pradesh has a young and dynamic chief minister who is said to have a vision for the development of the state. Do you think this will make your job as governor easy?
It is always good to work with dynamic and forward-looking people.
How satisfying has been your journey so far?
I am happy that towards the end of my career I am going to assume a highly dignified constitutional office. One cannot achieve everything in life but mine has been a highly satisfying career. For me what is most important is that I never made compromises. If I had an opinion on an issue I made it clear irrespective of whether it was liked or not. This I did even when I was a part of BJP-Biju Janata Dal coalition government in the state. I have always lived with my head held high.
Your elevation as the governor of Andhra Pradesh is good news for the people of the state. Your supporters and well-wishers in the BJP and even outside the party are happy. But with you assuming charge in Andhra Pradesh the state BJP will lose one of its most seasoned leaders who used to guide the party. The party is going to miss you badly.
It’s not that state BJP is going to suffer because of my absence. The party will always find capable leaders to guide it. I am sure it will continue to prosper.
You had a long innings in politics. You were a minister with important portfolios. Can you tell us about some landmark decisions that you took as an administrator?
Look this is not the right occasion to talk about it. I don’t want to discuss politics. But yes I can tell you with all sincerity that I have always taken a stand in my life and I have never made any compromises on issues concerning the interest of the state. And I have been dignified in whatever I have done.
You have been a relentless campaigner for Odia language and culture. You have also been campaigning for Paika rebellion of Odisha being recognised as the first Indian war of independence. There is now also a growing demand for a memorial to commemorate the Paika rebellion. Will your campaign in this regard continue even after being made a governor?
See I have always maintained that Paika rebellion was the first Indian war of independence. More importantly it was a people’s war unlike the sepoy mutiny. I am happy that Paika rebellion has received recognition from the Centre and the Prime Minister himself. It is a matter of pride for Odisha.
What is your message to the younger generation?
I think younger generation should be strong and self-respecting. It should be capable of resisting any attack on human and constitutional rights. There are great expectations from younger people but they can meet these expectations only if they are strong and take their responsibilities seriously.
How do you see your role as the governor of Andhra Pradesh which is one of the most important states of the country. It recently elected a new government and chief minister.
It will be my priority to discharge my constitutional duties as the governor of the state with utmost sincerity. I will also try my best to ensure the development of the state.