Gayatri Prajapati was Samajwadi Party’s man for all seasons in Uttar Pradesh - Hindustan Times
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Gayatri Prajapati was Samajwadi Party’s man for all seasons in Uttar Pradesh

By, Lucknow
Feb 29, 2024 07:10 AM IST

A petty contractor who got residential and commercial complexes in Amethi whitewashed, Gayatri Prajapati came into prominence in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh assembly election

The then mining minister Gayatri Prajapati was the go-to man for the Samajwadi Party which stood by him through all seasons, not willing to let him go despite many ups and downs.

Gayatri Prajapati was a minister in the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh. (FILE PHOTO)
Gayatri Prajapati was a minister in the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh. (FILE PHOTO)

The alleged kingpin of illegal mining activities in the state during the SP regime, Prajapati is currently in the Lucknow district jail in connection with different cases.

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A measure of the party’s reluctance to let him go can be gauged from the fact that though the then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had sacked Prajapati before the 2017 state assembly election, he was reinstated under pressure from top SP leaders. However, soon, he was arrested in a gang rape case in March 2017.

Indeed, his rise to political prominence under the SP’s patronage was swift as his fall. A petty contractor who got whitewashing of residential and commercial complexes in Amethi done, Prajapati came into prominence in the 2012 assembly election as he emerged as a giant killer, defeating Amita Singh, wife of senior Congress leader Sanjay Singh, in Amethi.

With this victory, he won the confidence of Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav. In February 2013, Prajapati was inducted as minister of state in the Akhilesh Yadav government and later elevated to cabinet rank.

Soon, Prajapati emerged as the face of the extremely backward communities in the Samajwadi Party. The SP tasked him with mobilising the members of the backward community, particularly the 17 communities, seeking inclusion among the Scheduled Castes.

During the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign, the SP launched “rath yatras” across the state to woo the backward communities. Prajapati led these rath yatras and organised rallies. Though the SP fared badly in Lok Sabha election, Prajapati did not lose the confidence of SP chief and continued in the cabinet.

In 2015, the lokayukta started a probe against Prajapati in illegal mining and disproportionate assets case, but he managed to get a clean chit.

A couple of years before Prajapati’s arrest, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report tabled in the U.P. legislative assembly in 2015, detected large-scale illegal mining in the state. Sand and stone mining was carried out in violation of the mining plan and Environment Act, it said.

In the report, CAG observed: “The scrutiny of the records in the office of Geology and Mining revealed cases of short realisation of royalty and interest, non-levy of penalty and application fee, non-short levy of minerals on illegal mining, unauthorised extraction and non- conformity of government orders with rules.”

In another report tabled in the state assembly in 2019, CAG detected large-scale irregularities in mineral mining in the state in 2016-17.

In its audit, CAG also detected extraction of minor minerals without environment clearance. Also, the state government did not recover the cost of minerals amounting to 180 crore, it found.

Indicting the SP government, the CAG stated, “The necessity for filing and seeking approval of the mining plan was ignored in the cases of several lessees. In addition, a large number of lessees were allowed to extract minerals without renewal of the mining plan and were allowed to extract minerals much above the quantity approved in the plan. Also, the state government chose not to recover 282 crore penalties from such violators.”

It also said that the mining department did not monitor the submission of mandatory quarterly returns, realisation of difference of royalty on rate revision and assess the price of minerals and interest on belated payment of royalty.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Rajesh Kumar Singh is Assistant Editor, Hindustan Times at the political bureau in Lucknow. Along with covering politics, he covers government departments. He also travels to write human interest and investigative stories.

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