Governor's Dalit `agenda' gives Gupta govt the jitters

Indian Express,14th Sept 2000

LUCKNOW, SEPT 13: I do not care if I am being termed as a parallel chief minister. It makes no difference to me and I will continue to fight for the uplift of the Dalits,'' Uttar Pradesh Governor Suraj Bhan told newspersons at Lucknow University here yesterday.

Bhan is the first Governor who, in his capacity as the Chancellor ofuniversities in the state, spent a full day in the university and got acquainted with the conditions prevailing on the campus.

The Governor's interest in the welfare of the Dalits and demand for proper implementation of various schemes for them has become a cause of concern for the Ram Prakash Gupta government in the state. Though he has never had an excellent rapport with the government since taking over as the Governor two years ago, what is being dubbed as his recent penchant for ``more power'' has become a cause for worry in the corridors of power.

The Gupta government was aghast when it received a letter from Duleep Singh, secretary in the Raj Bhawan, asking why the Intelligence Department IG was not briefing Bhan on the law and order situation. Sources said Bhan wanted a control room to be set up at the Raj Bhawan in this regard, but the government turned down the request. Bhan also wanted a separate discretionary fund for Governors and raised the issue at a recent conference of Governors.

Bhan was also willing to go in for a division-level review of the development works and the law and order situation but had to give up the idea following pressure from the party's top brass, according to the sources. ``He has done the same thing when Kalyan Singh was the chief minister, and had supervised such meetings in two divisions but had to withdraw when Kalyan took up the issue with the party's central leadership,'' a senior official at the Raj Bhawan said.

The Governor's ``concern'' for the Dalits has made the government jittery. ``We are not supposed to brief the Governor on the law and order issue at atime when an elected government is in place. He is trying to make hispresence felt,'' a Home Department official said.

Bhan's reported concern for Dalit officers has endeared him to them. He was the chief guest at a meeting of the Parivartan Vichar Manch -- a body of Dalit officers and employees -- held in the state capital last month.

According to sources, the state BJP leaders have complained to the party's central leadership about the Governor's activities, but are yet to get a response

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