The last couple of years saw many prominent public officials resign their offices, in silent or vocal protest against the NDA 2 government. Many speculated that some of the exits were forced so the government could save face after historic policy failures such as demonetisation and the cow protection racket.

Many major institutions of the country witnessed this flux and instability; they and the public had to bear the cost of this uncommon practice of authorities stepping down in droves.

Reserve Bank of India

Differences between the RBI and the government are common, but with Urjit Patel’s departure from the central bank tensions appear to have risen to unprecedented heights. Patel, like Raghuram Rajan before him, cited personal reasons for resigning. Ranjan, a respected economist, recently told the media that attention must be given to Urjit Patel’s worrying walkout and the reasons behind it.

Name Designation Appointment Resignation Reason
Urjit Patel 24th RBI Governor September 4, 2016 December 10, 2018

Personal reasons (Resigned before the completion of his term in September 2019)

Raghuram Rajan 23rd RBI Governor September 4, 2013 September 4, 2016 Wasn’t offered a second term; wanted to return to academia

Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council

The EAC is meant to give advice and views on economic policies and issues to the government, especially the Prime Minister’s Office. With Arvind Subramaniam citing personal reasons for his resignation, many remarked the trend of competent officials leaving their positions under NDA 2. Surjit Bhalla left while voting for the recent Assembly elections was underway.

Name Designation Appointment Resignation Reason
Arvind Subramaniam Chief Economic Advisor, Govt of India October 16, 2014 June 20, 2018

Personal reasons; is believed to have been kept out of the loop for demonetisation

Surjit Bhalla Part time member of Economic Advisory Councr December 1, 2018 September 4, 2016 His spokesperson said “In his [resignation] request he had stated that he would be joining some other organization”.


What was touted as the NDA 2’s replacement for the Planning Commission also saw a foreign-educated advisor step down. Speculation was rife about Vice-Chairman Anand Panagariya’s resignation two and a half years into his term. Among the theories: the RSS was unhappy with his recommendations, he was unhappy the PM wasn’t protecting him from verbal attacks by the RSS, or from additional power centres within the Aayog.

Name Designation Appointment Resignation Reason
Arvind Panagariya Vice Chairman January 2015 August 2017

Said he wanted to return to academics


The higher judiciary took centre stage early last year in a disturbing and unprecedented press conference, where the highest ranking judges of the Supreme Court told the public that “democracy is in peril”. Justice Gogoi confirmed that their public comments on the nature and prevalence of judicial corruption related in part to the assigning of a bench to hear a case indirectly involving former home minister Amit Shah. Against the backdrop of the ongoing NJAC v Collegium tussle, this moment of crisis spilled out into the open.

1. Press Conference by Supreme Court Justices

Name Designation Appointment Resignation Reason
Justice Ranjan Gogoi 46th Chief Justice of India October 3, 2018 Term ends in 2019

Claimed democracy was in danger, and benches were being assigned to suit the government

Justice Chelameswar Supreme Court Judge October 11, 2011 Retired on June 22, 2018 Commented on judicial corruption and judicial independence
Justice Madan Lokur Supreme Court Judge June 4, 2012 Retired on December 30 2018 Was vocal about the problems in the bench and the need to hold a conference
Justice Kurien Joseph Supreme Court Judge March 8, 2013 November 29, 2018 Commented on the importance of transparency in the aftermath of the press conference

2. Resignations

Name Designation Appointment Resignation Reason
Justice Jayant Patel Judge in Karnataka High Court December 11, 2001 September 25th, 2017

Quit citing personal reasons. Was thought to have stepped down following the order of his transfer to the Allahabad High Court

Ministers and Bureaucrats

With many prominent ministers stepping down, stating reasons of dissatisfaction and poor upkeep of promises, the internal dynamics of the biased appointment and selection of ministers was brought to light.

Name Designation Appointment Resignation Reason
Upendra Kushwaha Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development November 9, 2014 December 10, 2018

Accused Narendra Modi of having betrayed Bihar. The RLSP chief caused a massive upset to the NDA government as he stepped out over

Sujatha Singh Foreign Secretary August 2013 January 2015 Claimed her tenure was curbed by order from the PMO. Her request for early retirement was rejected; references to the PM in her resignation letter weren’t allowed
Anandiben Patel Chief Minister of Gujarat May 22, 2014 August 3, 2016 Cited personal reasons and old age

Governors Appointed by the UPA

When the NDA 2 government came to power in May 2014, a slew of UPA appointed governors handed in their resignations. While many refused to comment on their reasons, others said the NDA 2 government had exerted pressure on them to leave office.

Name Designation Appointment Resignation Reason
Sheila Dixit Governor of Kerala March 4, 2014 August 2014

She claimed “I did what my heart said I should do”; reason speculated to be because of discussed shift to Mizoram

M.K.Narayanan Governor of West Bengal January 2010 June 30, 2014 Was asked to step down by the NDA government
Ashwani Kuma Governor of Nagaland March 21, 2013 June 27, 2014 Was asked to step down by the NDA government
B.L.Joshi Governor of Uttar Pradesh July 28, 2009; re appointed March 6, 2014 June 17, 2014 Was asked to step down by the NDA government
B.V.Wanchoo Governor of Goa May 2012 July 2014 Said Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami asked him to step down
Vakkom B.Puroshotham Governor of Nagaland September 2, 2012 July 11, 2014 Unhappy with transfer to Mirozam; said was not consulted
K.Sankaranarayanan Governor of Maharashtra January 22, 2010 August 24, 2014 Was transferred to Mizoram


While the HRD Ministry and the IITs are supposed to work hand in hand, under the current government there has been a constant tug of war between the two. The directors of several IITs were seen not to be happy with some of the ministry’s decisions, which they said were taken without consulting or involving the institute authorities.

Name Designation Appointment Resignation Reason
R.Shevgaonkar Director, IIT Delhi 2011 December 22, 2014

Cited personal reasons; media reports suggest he was unhappy because of pressure from the government to release salary dues to former faculty members and BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy

Anil Kakodkar Chairperson, IIT Bombay 2006 March 22, 2015 Did not agree to the selection process adopted by the HRD Ministry for Directors of IIT Patna and IIT Bhubaneshwar
Mahesh Rangarajan Director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library June 2014 September 17, 2015 Resigned less than a week after his appointment by the UPA; under pressure he called “unethical and illegal” by Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma

Return of Awards Conferred by the State

A four month long campaign was begun in September 2015 by writers and filmmakers who returned their awards as a gesture of protest against the growing incidence of communal violence and the BJP government’s inability or unwillingness to protect free expression. Some 40 artists returned their awards.



1. Uday Prakash
2. Ashok Vajpeyi
3. Krishna Sobti
4. Mangalesh Dabral
5. Kashinath Singh
6. Rajesh Joshi


7. G.N.Devy
8. Nayantara Sahgal
9. Keki Daruwalla


10. Anil Joshi


11. Waryam Singh Sandhu
12. Surjit Patar
13. Jaswinder
14. Gurbachan Bhullar
15. Atamjit
16. Baldev Singh
17. Darshan Butter
18. Ajmer Singh Aulakh
19. Mohan Bhandari


20. Nand Bhardwaj
21. Ambikadutt


22. Kum Veerbhadrappa
23. Rahamat Tarikere
24. Devanuru Mahadeva


25. Ghulam Nabi Khayal
26. Margoob Banihali


27. Munawwar Rana
28. Khaleel Mamoon


29. Sara Joseph


30. Homen Borgohain
31. Nirupama Borgohain


32. Katyayani Vidmahe



33. Chaman Lal


34. GN Ranganatha Rao


35. Ibrahim Afghan



36. Aman Sethi


37. Pargat Singh Satauj



38. M. Bhoopal Reddy


39. Mandakranta Sen

Other prominent personalities who returned their awards:

1. Arundhati Roy, who returned her National Award for Best Screenplay won in 1989 for the film In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones

2. Kundan Shah, who returned his National Award for the film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron

3. Saeed Mirza

4. Dibakar Banerjee

5. Anand Patwardhan

6. Dipankar Banerjee

7. Paresh Kamdar

8. Nishtha Jain

9. Kirti Nakhwa

10. Harshavardhan Kulkarni

11. Hari Nair

12. Rakesh Sharma

13. Indraneel Lahiri

14. Lipika Singh Darai

15. Vikrant Pawar

16. Rakesh Shukla

17. Prateek Vats

18. Cinematographer Virendra Saini

19. Ajay Raina

20. Cinematographer Ranjan Palit

21. Cinematographer Manoj Lobo

22. Filmmaker Tapan Bose

23. Filmmaker Sanjay Kak

24. Filmmaker Madhusree Dutta

25. Filmmaker Pradip Krishen

26. Vivek Sachidanand

27. PM Satheesh

28. Film Editor Irene Dhar Malik

29. Cinematographer Satya Raj Nagpaul

30. Filmmaker Shriprakash

31. Cinematographer Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti

32. Film Director Rafeeq Ellias

33. Filmmaker Amitabha Chakravarty

34. Maithil filmmaker Tarun Bharitiya

35. Documentary maker Anwar Jamal

36. Cinematographer Sudhir Palsane

37. Cinematographer Abhimanyu Dange

38. Filmmaker Manoj Nitharwa.