Ignoring the growing outrage over the suspension of an IAS officer who took on the sand mafia in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party and its government in the state have stepped up offensive against Durga Shakti Nagpal.
In his first public reaction, party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said on Monday the decision to suspend the Gautam Budh Nagar sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) was “correct, final and justified” even as the UP government led by his son Akhilesh Yadav initiated “major penalty” proceedings against Nagpal.
These proceedings in the extreme case can even lead to dismissal or compulsory retirement.
The Congress, which came out in the defence of the young officer, with chief Sonia Gandhi writing to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ensure that Nagpal was not treated unfairly, was more nuanced in its response on Monday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the “Centre was in touch with the UP government to find out the full details in the case. The rules will be followed”.
The Congress chief is also understood to have discussed the issue with minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy.
The tempering of the Congress stance is being seen as a direct consequence of the combative position adopted by the SP, which threatened not to support the food security bill and even challenged the Centre to withdraw all IAS officers from the state.
The Congress does not want to disturb its tenuous relationship with the SP, as the party’s support is crucial for the UPA government. “The Centre can intervene only after receipt of an appeal from the officer. The Centre cannot take suo motu cognisance,” Narayanasamy said.
In its formal communication to the Centre that reached Delhi on Monday morning, the UP government informed the department of personnel about its decision to launch “major penalty proceedings”.
The SP chief indicated that his party was ready to support the food security bill if the government promised to protect interests of farmers and ensured that they got profit for their produce. On Sunday, his party colleague Naresh Agarwal said the party wouldn’t back the food entitlement legislation in “its present form”. The remark was read as a reaction to Gandhi’s support for Nagpal.
In Lucknow, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav also struck a defiant posture, saying “officers who make mistakes will be punished”. Drawing an analogy of “children who are beaten up by teachers and parents when they make a mistake”, the CM said the “government also runs like this, whenever an officer does something wrong, he/she is punished”.
He accused the media of making “hue and cry” over the issue even though a number of SDMs were suspended across the country.