Governor Ram Naik has asked a response from UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav why Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, who has been accused of rape in an FIR, has not been dropped from his cabinet. In his note to the CM, the governor has said it raised serious questions on democratic sacredness, constitutional decorum and constitutional conduct. Naik’s intervention midway during assembly elections in the state has political implications. He has defended his intervention in constitutional terms — he has cited Article 167 (b) of the Constitution — but the fact is his action is clearly prejudicial as it comes in the midst of the assembly elections.
Indeed, the CM is bound “to furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the state… as the governor may call for” and he may well do so. But Naik ought to be aware that the BJP had turned the case against Prajapati into a campaign issue and his note to the CM is most likely to be interpreted as weighing in favour of the opposition campaign against Akhilesh government. Surely, it is unbecoming of a governor to be echoing the campaign issue of a political party in the midst of elections.
Akhilesh Yadav could have asked Prajapati to step down from his ministry after the FIR was filed. It was poor politics on Akhilesh Yadav’s part to have retained Prajapati, who had earlier been accused in a mining scam, even after the Union Home Ministry impounded the his passport and issued a look-out notice. Prajapati has since gone absconding. Perception influences political choices.
The promise of Akhilesh Yadav was that he would reinvent the Samajwadi Party by ridding itself of musclemen and history-sheeters. Prajapati, reportedly close to Mulayam Singh Yadav, is a representative of an order that Akhilesh Yadav has tried to disassociate with. The CM sought to send a message across to Prajapati by refusing to campaign with him. But such token disapproval is insufficient when the person continues to serve in his ministry and seek reelection under the SP ticket. On Monday, the Supreme Court remarked that it was “unfortunate” that the order directing UP police to lodge an FIR against Prajapati was being given a “political colour”. The apex court’s observation is meant for those who continue to defend the indefensible — and Ram Naik as well.