Governor’s exit heightens political tension in Lucknow

By Mohit Dubey,

Lucknow : Amid calls for the sacking of the Uttar Pradesh government over the rising crime graph, the exit of Governor B.L. Joshi is causing worry to the Samajwadi Party regime.

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Joshi’s resignation Tuesday is likely to add to the already mounting challenges for the Akhilesh Yadav government, which fears that a successor may not be friendly vis-a-vis the Samajwadi Party.

The 78-year-old Joshi, a former police officer, was appointed by the previous Congress government and endeared himself with two successive but contrasting chief ministers: Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav.

This was largely achieved by Joshi’s non-interference in the functioning of the government and his knowledge of both his constitutional obligations and limitations, a close aide to the outgoing governor told IANS.

During his five-year stint in Lucknow, while Joshi stayed away from realpolitik, he did nudge the state government when the situation arose.

Insiders in Raj Bhavan maintain that Joshi routed his thoughts on government-related issues not through the media but by directly talking to the chief minister he worked with.

“Everyone knew Mayawati would not budge on certain issues but the governor had his own way of dealing with her,” said an official. “Better sense prevailed and she listened to Joshi’s informal advice.”

With Mayawati using the helipad in the sprawling Raj Bhavan most of the time, she would drop in for tea with the governor. Over months, the ice between Joshi and her melted away.

Joshi’s relations with Akhilesh Yadav, who came to power in 2012, were more cordial despite the gulf of 38 years between them.

Akhilesh Yadav made it a point to visit the governor almost every week. Informed sources said Yadav always accepted “elderly, seasoned advice” on important issues from Joshi.

But Joshi dug in his heels on the re-appointment of the Lokayukta in 2012 and took on the Samajwadi Party government during the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar.

He demanded daily briefings from the chief minister but never went beyond the brief, said an aide.

Joshi also maintained a good equation with the social circles in Lucknow and was ready to take part in events he thought would benefit the state.

For the last five years, the governor has been quietly sending the rich harvest of fruits and vegetables in Raj Bhavan to several orphanages in the city — without any publicity.

Asked by IANS why he kept such a low profile, Joshi answered that he did not believe in self-promotion or publicity but was a doer.

With his exit, the state government is worried at the prospects of having a “hostile” governor.

With the BJP heading the central government and eyeing the 2017 state elections, “most likely a political appointee will assume charge,” a state minister who did not want to be named told IANS.

The Samajwadi Party was stunned by the Lok Sabha elections when it won only five of the 80 seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept a record 71 and its ally Apna Dal bagged two seats.

The state unit of the BJP has given enough signals that it was not averse to destablizing the Akhilesh Yadav government. The Bahujan Samaj Party wants the Samajwadi Party to be sacked.

During and after the Lok Sabha polls, BJP leaders like Uma Bharti (now a union minister) had said that the state government won’t last its full term.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])