Reacting to objections raised by the BJP on his decision to meet the public every day for two hours, newly appointed Uttar Pradesh Governor Aziz Qureshi said “no one can stop” him from carrying out his duties.
“Tomorrow they will tell me not to go out of my house or wear a veil. I know the duties of a Governor. I had opened gates of Raj Bhavan for the public in Uttarakhand as well but I do not know why they have a problem here,” Qureshi told The Indian Express during his first janata darshan, from 11am to 1pm, when he met nearly 70 people on Wednesday — his third day in office.
The Governor is of the view that the “system” of not being able to meet officials without a prior appointment “was devised by the British to create a vacuum between the masses and rulers”. “They created the concept of laat sahibs and when Indians took over, some of them became bigger laat sahibs. I have just removed this system and have opened the gates of Raj Bhavan for the public and anyone (else) who wants to meet me,” Qureshi said.
Soon after taking oath as UP Governor (after B L Joshi’s resignation) — while simultaneously holding the post in Uttarakhand — Qureshi had announced that anyone who wishes to meet him can do so at the Raj Bhavan, even without a prior appointment. It is learnt that the practice was adopted during President’s rule in the state.
The BJP had questioned the move with party state president Laxmikant Bajpai shooting off a written statement asking Qureshi “to review his decision”. “We respect the dignity of Governor. But before deciding to hold a janata darshan, the Governor should explain whether there is a President’s rule in the state or if he has sent any recommendation to the Centre to impose President’s rule.”
However, Qureshi hardly appeared to take note of the BJP’s resistance to his move when he gave out his personal mobile number to the visitors and said that, if required, he would also visit the districts to oversee problems of people in the state.
At the meeting, he admitted that “maintaining law and order, stopping crime against women, power crisis and unemployment were a challenge in the state”. On the other hand, the Samajwadi Party government said it had no problems with Qureshi’s janata darshan. “It’s the Governor’s prerogative and he is well within his rights to go anywhere in the state,” said Samajawadi Party spokesperson and Cabinet Minister Rajendra Chowdhury.
Qureshi, a veteran Congress leader, called former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee his “role model” in “keeping Raj Dharma above everything else”. “I am proud to be a Congressman but I am not a Governor of Congress or any political party,” he said. The Governor assured those who listed out their problems of action. Besides the common visitors, Qureshi met politicians, teachers, students, professors and mediapersons in the presence of elected government, a first-of-its-kind scene at Raj Bhavan. Rajya Sabha Member Pramod Tiwari and BJP Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma were among those present.
Sharma was asked about BJP’s objection to which he replied, “I have not come here as the party’s representative. It is my courtesy visit as Mayor of the city.”