They once called the shots in the corridors of power. But, now they are on the run.
Seven former ministers of the BSP regime are allegedly evading arrest in connection with the multi-crore Labour and Construction Cooperative Federation (LACCFED) scam in which they are the accused.
Some of them have shifted to hideouts in Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and Uttarakhand. Also, they are maintaining a distance from their family members and close aides.
Badshah Singh is the only former minister to have been arrested so far.
Former secondary education minister Rangnath Mishra and former small-scale industry minister Chandradeo Ram Yadav had moved the high court, as well as the Supreme Court, for quashing orders for their arrest, but their plea was turned down.
The duo was not traceable when the special investigation bureau (SIB) of the state police cooperative cell raided their residences and suspected hideouts.
As a result, the SIB approached the special task force (STF) for their arrest, said Subrat Tripathi, director general of the cooperative cell.
And now, the SIB has decided to approach the newly appointed additional director general (law and order) Arun Kumar for help to arrest the accused.
AP Gangwar, deputy superintendent of police with the SIB, said, “I will meet Kumar on Monday and urge him to direct the district police to arrest the ministers.”
The SIB will also urge the state police to coordinate with the police of the other states.
Speaking at a recent function, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said the former ministers, who are accused in various scams, fled UP.
The SIB has issued notices to Nand Gopal Gupta Nandi (former stamp and registration minister), Chaudhary Laxmi Narayan (former agriculture minister), Sadal Prasad (former technical education minister), Awadhpal Singh Yadav (former animal husbandry minister) and Anish Ahmed Khan alias Phool Babu (former minority welfare minister).
All of them have evaded interrogation on one ground or the other. “If they do not turn up, we will approach a court for arrest warrants against them,” said Tripathi.
Former cooperative and panchayati raj minister Swami Prasad Maurya (leader of opposition in the legislative assembly at present) and former PWD minister, Naseemuddin Siddiqui (leader of opposition in legislative council) are also on the SIB radar.
“We are collecting evidence against Maurya and Siddiqui. Notices would be issued to them soon,” Tripathi said.
Sources alleged some of the former ministers received 10-12% kickbacks for releasing funds to the LACCFED for construction works associated with their department.
Though a cooperative federation, the LACCFED turned into a construction agency almost overnight in 2010-11. Despite not having the engineers or equipment for the job, it bagged a construction tender worth Rs 500 crore.
The LACCFED scam was unearthed in January 2012 when general manager, administration and finance, PN Singh Yadav lodged an FIR at Hussainganj police station, alleging that Rs. 12.36 crore was withdrawn from the agency’s account even without any work having been done.
The BSP government handed over the inquiry to SIB. After a change of guard in the state, the investigation was expedited in July.