Governor Anandiben Patel has been visiting districts and presiding over meetings of officers about implementation of various development projects. Unlike many of her predecessors, Patel does not hold any Janata Darbars, but still she is often called a proactive governor. Umesh Raghuvanshi spoke to her about her proactive role, the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh and other issues. Excerpts.
Do you hold Janata Darbar?
We don’t need to hold Janata Darbar. If anyone comes to Raj Bhavan with a problem, we convey the same to the minister of the respective department. There should be no direct intervention from Raj Bhavan.
Are you working as a proactive governor?
I am doing my duty as a governor. I don’t like the governor spending time within the four walls of Raj Bhavan. This is why I go on tours, meet farmers, teachers and others and visit schools. I convey the problems that are brought to my notice.
What about the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh?
There has been a considerable improvement in the situation on the law and order front and there is a need for further improvement. I understand many incidents of crime take place because of the complicity of some officers. There are officers who remain alert. If officers remain alert and are not hand in glove with the criminals, they can bring about a lot of change. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath is very alert about such incidents. The houses/buildings (of mafia/criminals) constructed illegally have been demolished recently.
You have worked as chief minister of Gujarat. How do you find Uttar Pradesh?
There is a difference in work culture. A desired level of activeness on the part of officers is missing. The officers should be a bit more active. There should be expeditious disposal of files. The officers should feel that files don’t remain pending with them for more than two to three days. But this keeps on happening (that) they don’t decide issues in three days. I feel bureaucracy is a bit lax in UP vis-a-vis those working in Gujarat. UP’s officers need to expedite decision-making.
What about implementing the e-office?
UP is a big state. They are implementing e-governance. This should show results. Works may take time. But there will be results.
Your take on ordinances to make laws like the one brought to check ‘love jihad’?
Yes, the state legislature has not been able to meet due to Covid-19. Under such circumstances, the governor gives nod to ordinances in the public interest.
What about your visits to Varanasi?
I am associated with a project on anganwadis in Varanasi. This may be a model project. The anganwadis are being repaired and painted. Toys and tricycles are being given there. I am involved as have been asked to. Now, people are coming forward to contribute. In Lucknow, 26 engineering colleges have come forward. Each of them is going to help five anganwadis.
What changes have you brought about in Raj Bhavan?
I have done many new things in Raj Bhavan too. The women from families of Raj Bhavan employees are being given training in chikankari. We carried out a large plantation drive. We have set up two ‘chandan vatikas’. We have set up a lotus pond and a zoo. The children (are) visiting Raj Bhavan. We are saving 25 per cent on power bills. We also took out old crockery and sent them to Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalaya. We have cleared old files that have been unnecessarily stored for years.
What challenges do you face in the education sector?
Yes, we do have a lot of challenges in reforming the education sector. Often, small issues cause problems for students and their parents. I have tried to set the things right in this sector. People want jobs and recruitment process should not have any flaws as this adversely affects the image of universities. We have asked for recording of all the interviews. We can call recordings to know about the candidate’s performance and the marks given. The governments in the past did not pay any attention to the issue of recruitment. A large number of cases are pending in courts and the government cannot make appointments on them.
This government is paying for the misdeeds of previous government. How will academic work be carried out if we don’t get teachers?
How about impact of Covid-19?
Yes, academic classes did not take place due to Covid-19. Those from rural background are facing problems. A way forward is being worked out. Now work on starting the classes has begun. An improvement has been noticed in the number of students attending the classes there.
What about political vice chancellors?
I have stopped political appointments. There is no political interference in appointments now. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath and his ministers don’t interfere with appointments and this has been left to me. This is done with the help of a search committee.
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