Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati may need to set her own house in order before she fulfils her pledge to eradicate crime from the state as some of her own ministers are arraigned for crimes ranging from murder, rape to human trafficking.
Minister of Home Guards Ved Ram Bhati is the latest in the list of senior Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) politicians to face criminal cases. A First Information Report (FIR) was lodged February 6 against Bhati in Greater Noida for criminal conspiracy in a triple murder case.
Bhati's son Ravinder is the prime accused in the murder of two transporters and their driver.
Another minister, Andandsen Yadav, was earlier forced to resign after he was accused of rape and murder.
Soon after she took over as the chief minister in May 2007, the BSP MP from Machhlishahr, Umakant Yadav, was arrested from Mayawati's residence in Lucknow for his alleged involvement in a land grab case.
The chief minister, who had ordered him to come to her house without letting him know that the police were waiting for him, then declared that no criminals would be spared.
But there were more black sheep in her flock.
In November, Minister of State for Food Processing Andandsen Yadav was accused of raping and murdering Shashi, a law student and poet. Shashi's father alleged that she was having an affair with Anandsen and was killed when she got pregnant.
The chief minister ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the matter.
Incidentally, Umakant Yadav, Bhati and Anandsen Yadav had criminal cases registered against them even before they were sworn in as ministers in Mayawati's cabinet.
Political analyst Prem Shankar Jha feels Mayawati is not wholly to blame for the situation; the system too is responsible.
"Since 1970, the system of legal financing of political parties by business houses during elections was stopped. Since then, parties in power got funding by squeezing industrialists; the opposition had no option but to use musclemen."
Jha added that all political parties in Uttar Pradesh inducted musclemen into politics.
But Mayawati's critics say they are not surprised over what they are witnessing in Uttar Pradesh.
"This has happened because Mayawati gave ministerial berths to those who were in jail when she took oath. People with criminal backgrounds have been associated with this government," Ramapati Ram Tripathi, state unit president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), told IANS in Lucknow.
Umakant Yadav and his brother Ramakant joined politics after they lost their jobs in the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) due to their unlawful activities.
Anandsen Yadav, son of Faizabad MP Mitrasen Yadav, had been accused of human trafficking and had 12 criminal cases against him when he joined the cabinet.
Bhati's portfolio was changed from labour and employment to Home Guards when he was found involved in forcing transporters and businessmen to share their profits with him.
Interestingly, one of the main election planks of Mayawati was to end the 'Goonda rule' of the Samajwadi Party.
Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Rita Bahuguna Joshi said, "Mayawati started by speaking against Mulayam Singh's government, but she is no better."
BSP supporters say that opposition parties are themselves packed with men who have a criminal past and that Mayawati has indeed brought about a dramatic improvement in the law and order situation compared to the Mulayam Singh regime.
One bureaucrat who did not wish to be named explained what he thought was the crux of the matter.
"It was expected that since all power is concentrated in her hands and her ministers actually fear her, she would be able to rein in her men. This does not seem to have happened," he said.