New Delhi: Former Lt. Governor of Puducherry Virendra Kataria, who was given marching orders by the Narendra Modi government earlier this month, Friday said his ouster was a "punishment for his honesty, integrity and views on the present set up" in the union territory.
A veteran Congressman, Kataria said when he went to meet Prime Minister Modi and union Home Minister Rajnath Singh after the new government was formed in mid-May, they told him to "carry on doing the good job as governor".
Speaking to the media at a Meet the Press event at the Press Club of India, Kataria defended signing the order to file an appeal against the acquittal of the Kanchi seers Jayendra Saraswathi and Vijayendra Saraswathi and 22 others in the Sankararaman murder case.
Kataria said he had come to learn that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was unhappy with his giving approval to the order. But he clarified that he had "no idea" that the file given to him to sign pertained to that of the Kanchi Shankaracharya.
He said the file pertaining to the Kanchi seers had been signed by the state law secretary, chief secretary "both of who said yes to an appeal".
"The chief minister too said yes... When everyone had said yes, I did not see any reason to not do the same. There was no mention of the Shankaracharya name on the file... Nowhere did it say on the file cover that it was about the Shankaracharya," he said.
Kataria was sacked four days after he had given approval to file an appeal against a Puducherry court order which acquitted Kanchi seers and 22 others in the murder of A Sankararaman, manager of the Sri Varadharajaswamy temple in Kancheepuram.
According to Kataria, the Puducherry administration was "at its lowest ebb" when he took over as Lt. Governor a year ago and he claimed that through his efforts he helped provide "fair, transparent governance" which was not liked by the chief minister and chief secretary.
Kataria said he has sought an audience with President Pranab Mukherjee to ask "what wrong have I committed... I have only performed my duty under the constitution".
Kataria, who was among the many United Progressive Alliance gubetnatorial appointees asked to quit after the new government took over, said he did not resign.
He received a letter from Rashtrapati Bhavan informing him that he "ceased to be governor and that the governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands was taking over his work.