People who took heart from Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Akhilesh Yadav's promise that his new government will not tolerate goons and "goondaism" must note this. Raghuraj Pratap Singh, the notorious politician infamous as Raja Bhaiyya, was sworn in as a minister in Yadav's government in Lucknow on Thursday.
Singh, an independent MLA from Kunda in Pratapgarh district, is one of UP's most feared 'bahubalis' and has several criminal cases pending against him. He was once charged with Prevention of Terrorism Act and there are allegations that he once fed his enemies to crocodiles he keeps as pets in his family mansion.
Yadav, who is the state's youngest chief minister at 38, may find it difficult to explain Singh's presence in his ministry but he is unlikely to remove him. Singh has been a loyalist of the Yadav family for years.
"Law and order is our priority and from today its our responsibility. Till now we have been levelling allegations on others", said Yadav at a press conference after being sworn in.
"It is the responsibility of the SP government to implement its election manifesto among the people and things it said before them", he said.
Yadav was administered oath by Governor B L Joshi. He took oath in presence of his father and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, family members, leaders of various political parties and prominent personalities. As many as 19 ministers of Cabinet rank were also admistered oath besides 29 ministers of state. Singh's ministry has not been announced yet.