Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Monday sacked two ministers facing corruption charges, a move aimed at boosting the ruling Samajwadi Party’s image ahead of next year’s assembly election.
Mining minister Gayatri Prajapati and panchayati raj, animal husbandry and minor irrigation minister Rajkishore Singh were the ones to lose their jobs within an hour of each other.
The opposition termed the sackings as “poll-oriented eyewash”.
The Samajwadi Party is battling charges of lawlessness and the opposition has also targeted it over allegations of corruption against senior ministers.
Yadav, who took over as the youngest chief minister of Uttar Pradesh at 38 in 2012, has said he will seek re-election on the promise of development and a clean administration without indulging in vote-bank politics.
Prajapati’s sacking came three days after the Allahabad high court rejected the state government’s plea to withdraw an order for a CBI probe into alleged illegal mining in the state.
The court on July 28 set a six-week deadline for the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct the probe, including the role of government officials, and submit a report. The deadline ended Monday.
Prajapati, the backward face of the Samajwadi Party who is said to be close to party chief and Akhilesh’s father Mulayam Singh Yadav, faces several charges including those of kickbacks in mining contracts, land grab and extortion.
“Illegal mining is rampant in the state and it is an open secret that he was promoting it... the CM’s decision is a mere eyewash. It will not help as people know the reality,” Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi said.
Rajkishore Singh, too, is accused of land grab. An NGO launched by his kin for recruiting employees to the panchayati raj department is also allegedly under the state government scanner.
Governor Ram Naik had accepted the CM’s recommendation firing the ministers, a Raj Bhawan communiqué said.
Yadav has taken charge of minor irrigation portfolio while social welfare minister Govind Chaudhary has been given the panchayati raj department. Minister of state for horticulture (independent charge) Moolchandra Chauhan will look after mining and minerals.
The BJP said the two ministers were made “scapegoats” after the high court ordered a CBI probe into the mining scandal. The party, which is looking to corner the government on charges of corruption, demanded the chief minister’s resignation for “failure on all fronts”.
“After looting the state for five years, the chief minister is doing it for publicity... It will be an unsuccessful attempt to cover up the failure of a corrupt government under which crime ruled the roost and education, health and road sectors collapsed,” BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma said.
(With agency inputs)