Lucknow, May 18 (IANS) Voted to power with a promise to weed out corruption and send the guilty behind bars, the Akhilesh Yadav government has, a year-and-a-half later, not been able to take much action in cases involving high-ranking figures of the Mayawati regime despite damning evidence emerging out of the Lokayukta’s investigations.
With these reports pertaining to Naseemuddin Siddiqui, the powerful and influential public works department (PWD) minister and number two in the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government, submitted by the Lokayukta, Justice (retd) N.K. Mehrotra, more than a year ago, gathering dust in the secretariat, informed sources suggest that a powerful bureaucrat, owing proximity to Mayawati, is stonewalling further movement in the case.
A source told IANS that despite the regime change in 2012, many officials close to the former chief minister Mayawati continue to wield immense power in the Samajwadi Party (SP) government too.
“I can tell you that the chief minister is yet to see the files pertaining to the Lokayukta report on the former PWD minister,” said an official of the chief minister’s office while hinting at the “protection” that is now being talked about in the corridors of power.
Sources however say that the matter has been discussed with the political establishment, through a senior BSP leader, and a quid pro quo has been worked out.
“In matters of serious political ramifications, it is usually ‘you protect me and I will protect you’ and so we are doing nothing alien by saving the BSP ministers though they remain our arch-rivals,” said a senior ruling party leader.
He also reminded that in the run-up to the 2007 state assembly polls, Mayawati had asserted at public rallies that if she was voted to power, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and then party general secretary Amar Singh would be sent behind bars, but noted that despite ruling for five years, she did not fulfill the promise.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav however contends that many ministers of the BSP government will go to jail. But ask him when and he is silent.
This silence, officials say, comes from the fact that the chief minister knows that he is faced with a an unwilling bureaucrat in his own office.
In his exhaustive report submitted to the chief minister’s office, the Lokayukta in his 2012 report has detailed how Siddiqui, his wife Husna, brother Jamruddin and son Afzal have been involved in graft.
In his report, on pages 12 and 13, the Lokayukta details how the income from known sources, of the minister leaped from Rs.69.9 lakh to Rs.13.62 crore between March 1997 to March 2012.
Other than this, there are various cases appended in the report in which the Lokayukta has concluded that the minister was beyond doubt involved in wrong-doing and plundering of the state.
On the 72nd page of the report, the Lokayunkta has clearly said that the charges against the then PWD minister call for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). Justice Mehrotra also concedes that the “speed at which action on my reports should be taken is not being done.”
In 12 other cases too, sources say, due to official lethargy, the political executive is unable to take decisions on corruption matters.
With the report card of this government not showing any hope for the ruling party, SP leadership thinks that a fresh onslaught on the ministers of BSP would give it political fodder in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. But the bureaucrats seem to be so far having their way in keeping the BSP ministers out of the legal noose.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])