Lucknow: He is only a few days old in the Raj Bhavan here. But Uttar Pradesh's acting Governor Aziz Qureshi is already courting controversy.
Given additional charge of the state along with Uttarakhand, Qureshi, a former Congress leader, has struck a discordant note by announcing that he will hold a daily 'janata darbar' in the Raj Bhavan. This, he said, was necessary to "hear out problems of the people and possibly get them redressed".
This came as a shocker to political leaders here who appeared to be comfortable with the low key existence of former governor B.L. Joshi, who quit after a new government took power in New Delhi.
Lucknow is used to pro-active governors: Romesh Bhandari, Moti Lal Vora, Surajbhan and T.V. Rajeshwar, to name a few.
What has, however, surprised many is that Qureshi has not ruffled many feathers in the ruling Samajwadi Party but rather in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is itching to rule Uttar Pradesh.
Insiders say that while Qureshi's actions have not gone too well with the state government, it has for now decided to remain mum and wait for a full-time governor.
The BJP's state unit has questioned the governor's move to have 'janata darbar'.
Laxmikant Bajpayi, the state BJP president, has called it a "bad start" since the state was not under President's Rule. He has raised the matter in the assembly too.
Bajpayi has reportedly taken up the issue with party president and Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
"Such actions by the governor will set a wrong precedent as an elected government is firmly in the saddle," he said.
The governor, however, refuses to budge. He has made it clear that he will not be confined to the stately Raj Bhavan.
Qureshi maintains that he was not doing anything unconstitutional. On the contrary, he wants to start holding such 'meet-the-people' events in districts too.
A constitutional expert and lawyer said on the condition of anonymity that nothing prevented governors from meeting people directly.
Qureshi, who has been the Uttarakhand governor since 2012, says he has had excellent relations with BJP leaders. He calls former prime minister and now ailing Atal Bihari Vajpayee his "role model in Raj Dharma".
He has met many senior leaders across party lines, academics, clerics at the Nadwa seminary as well as ordinary people.
With the governor already raising issues like rising crimes against women, slow delivery mechanism and spiralling crime as areas of concern, it may not be too long before sparks fly in Lucknow.