Lucknow: Apprehensions of a possible face-off between the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh and the Raj Bhawan turned true Monday as a press conference by Governor Ram Naik drew a sharp response from the government.
Naik, who completed 90 days as governor, had called the media for an interaction Monday and distributed a booklet titled 'Raj Bhawan Mein Ram Naik' enumerating the work done during the brief period. It also mentioned about his "advisory" role to the state government, headed by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, in improving law and order.
Responding to a poser that his frequent questions to the state government were tantamount to needling it, the governor said while he was aware that the Samajwadi Party had made some comments at their recent national convention in the state capital, he would not like to comment on the "political comments" made about him.
Naik added: "I am here as the constitutional head of the state who has to ensure that the state government works in accordance with the constitution."
On more than three occasions, the governor, at public events, had chided the state government for the failing law and order in the state and suggested that it improve the sense of security among the public.
Officials in the Raj Bhawan justified Naik's stand and said his suggestions to the UP government as constitutional head of the state were well within the rights of a governor.
Another statement of Ram Naik that courted controversy was that "acche din" were round the corner as the fuel prices were coming down.
"Only yesterday the diesel prices have been slashed and as a former union petroleum minister, I am aware what cascading effect the price of fuel have on inflation and price rise. So, I am sure this Diwali will be 'acchi diwali'," the governor said.
Senior SP leader and Rajya Sabha member Naresh Agarwal said this was unbecoming of the governor.
He said: "We respect the post of governor but then the occupant should also remain within the constitutional framework and not behave as an active political figure," he said, while adding that in case the Raj Bhawan is used as "a centre of politics where conspiracy against an elected government enjoying full majority is hatched, the governor should be prepared for a political fallout and a political reaction".
He also suggested that Naik should realise that he is no longer a BJP leader but now holds a constitutional post and should behave as such.
BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said he found nothing wrong in the governor giving suggestions to the state government.
He said: "SP should also realise that Naik holds a constitutional post and any political attack on him would be an attack on the constitution" he told IANS.
He also dismissed charges that the governor was trying to run a parallel government, facilitating way for the BJP.