Fond of tea, books, mild-mannered Net Ram was among Mayawati’s favourite officers
When income-tax officials raided the residence of Net Ram, who served as principal secretary during the Mayawati regime, many mistook it to be an exercise against another Net Ram, a popular sweet shop in Lucknow’s Aminabad area.
The confusion persisted until taxmen confirmed that the premises of ex-UP bureaucrat and his kin and associates in Lucknow, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai were being searched.
So far, taxmen claim to have recovered a ₹50 lakh Mont Blanc pen, luxury cars, and expensive home theatre systems in his houses in Lucknow and Delhi. They have seized papers and documents detailing assets worth Rs 200 crore. HT couldn’t independently verify these claims.
Income tax officials familiar with the development said on condition of anonymity that the department has also come to know of around 30 shell companies managed by Net Ram
During Net Ram’s stint as principal secretary (sugar industry), the Mayawati government carried out the controversial sale of 10 operational sugar mills belonging to the Uttar Pradesh State Sugar Corporation Limited and 11 mills belonging to its subsidiary, Uttar Pradesh Rajya Chini Evam Ganna Vikas Nigam Ltd. The 21 sugar mills were all sold between July 2010 and March 2011.
The Yogi Adityanath government has recommended a CBI probe into the sale of sugar mills.
“Netram was among those officers whom I quizzed in connection with the sale of sugar mills,” retired Lokayukta Justice (retd), NK Mehrotra, said.
After his retirement in 2016, not much was heard of Net Ram, a 1979-batch IAS officer who rose from humble roots and was known to be fond of good tea.
A retired bureaucrat of the 1979 batch recalled, “Every time someone would visit him, he would welcome the person with teas of different flavours. He would also gift books to those who called on him.”
Though Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leaders refused to confirm them, there are several reports that he was lobbying for a BSP ticket in the coming Lok Sabha election. The mild-mannered and soft-spoken bureaucrat held key posts in the Mayawati government and languished in the wilderness when she wasn’t in power. “When the Samajwadi Party and the BSP parted ways in 1993, the bureaucracy got sharply marked on caste lines. Net Ram, from a scheduled caste, was identified with Mayawati,” another bureaucrat said on condition of anonymity.
A third officer who asked not to be identified said that he had no reason to believe that Net Ram was corrupt. A fourth officer said on condition of anonymity that while the timing — the proximity of the searches to the coming Lok Sabha polls in which the BSP is one of the BJP’s main rivals in Uttar Pradesh — is suspect,“it’s equally true that such raids aren’t carried out unless there is solid information”.
“Net Ram was among three prominent SC officers in the Mayawati government. Two of them are now in the BSP and their fortunes have changed rapidly,” recalled a former DGP, who asked not to be identified.
Interestingly, in 2009, the Mayawati government had to issue a statement saying it had no say in the selection of the Uttar Pradesh Ranji team after Net Ram’s son Kshitij Lal made to the team. To end the controversy, He made his son withdraw from the team.