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Many in BJP want Meghalaya Governor Malik out, but will ‘bear with him at least till’ UP polls

Satya Pal Malik, who has history of making controversial statements, irked BJP again by alleging PM Modi displayed 'arrogance' when he went to discuss farmer protests with him.

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New Delhi: Meghalaya governor Satya Pal Malik has got the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership in a bind. Often left red-faced by his controversial statements — the latest being his “arrogant” barb at Prime Minister Narendra Modi — ruling party leaders are extremely upset with him and would like to see him out of the Raj Bhavan. But they have decided to “bear with him”, “until at least” the Uttar Pradesh elections before taking any action, multiple BJP leaders and government functionaries have told ThePrint.

On Sunday, Malik had alleged that PM Modi displayed arrogance when he met him to discuss the farmer protests against the three controversial farm laws that have since been repealed, and that he entered into an argument with him.

“He will make more news if we sack him,” a senior minister said Tuesday on the condition of anonymity. Malik has nine months left as Meghalaya governor, if he is allowed to complete his full term.

“So far the plan is to not give him any attention, something which he is seeking through his antics. This is also true of (Pilibhit BJP MP) Varun Gandhi. Everyday he posts something or the other on his social media to hurt the BJP, but the idea is to ignore him too,” a government functionary told ThePrint.

According to BJP leaders, while the party does not want to give Malik unnecessary importance by responding to his allegations, many in the party also feel that any action taken against him now will divert attention from the upcoming assembly elections, which the party wants to avoid at all cost.

While Malik has a history of stirring controversy by making comments against the ruling party and the Modi government, this is perhaps the first time that he has made a direct, person, criticism of the Prime Minister.

Despite that, there has been no public criticism of him by any BJP leader yet.

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Repeat offender

Malik has changed his party allegiance many times — from Lok Dal to the Congress, the Janata Dal, the Samajwadi Party, and then, finally, the BJP. He has been a member of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and even a cabinet minister in the past.

The leader started his gubernatorial stint from the Raj Bhavan in Patna, Bihar (where he stayed between September 2017 and August 2018), before moving to Srinagar (August 2018 to October 2019) during the eventful period of the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s ‘special status’ and its bifurcation into the two union territories of J&K and Ladakh. He was then made governor of Goa (November 2019-August 2020), before moving to Shillong as governor of Meghalaya in August last year.

His habit of making controversial statements is, however, nearly as old as his political career.

From claiming that he was offered a Rs 300 crore bribe to clear files belonging to “Ambani” and an “RSS-linked man” while the governor of Jammu & Kashmir, to openly supporting the farmers’ agitation against the three controversial farm laws brought in by the Modi government, and making allegations of corruption against the BJP-led government in Goa, Malik’s public statements have often grabbed eyeballs.

“This is not the first time that he has made such comments. The party leadership observes and notes everything. Everything has a time and appropriate action will be taken at the right time. Right now is not the time,” said a senior BJP leader.

“We have the crucial elections round the corner and the priority of the party and the leadership is to concentrate on that.”

Another leader added: “It seems like he is deliberately making such controversial comments to get a reaction from the party. The party is not going to fall in his trap. His comments have no value and come from his own bitterness. It seems like he has some other political design in mind or he wants some role in the upcoming UP elections.”

However, in an interview in November last year, Malik had, categorically ruled out the possibility of him returning to active politics after his gubernatorial stint gets over.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

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