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EC axe falls on 10 'tainted' UP officials
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | March 14, 2007 19:10 IST
Last Updated: March 15, 2007 00:25 IST
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav was in for yet another shock with the Election Commission on Wednesday ordering immediate replacement of some of Mulayam's hand-picked men at the top echelons of the state administration.
At the top of the list was UP's Principal Home Secretary Satish Agarwal and state police chief Bua Singh, both of whom were alleged to have virtually donned the ruling Samajwadi Party cap.
They were among those whom different political parties have pointedly accused as 'agents' of the ruling party.
The commission has asked state chief secretary Navin Chandra Bajpai to submit a panel of names for the replacement of all these officials latest by 10 am on Thursday.
The direction was stated to have been issued in the "larger interest of ensuring free and fair assembly elections" spread over the forthcoming months of April and May.
Naturally, the EC missive has jolted Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was alleged to have kept a coterie of 'committed officials' on key assignments so that they could be 'used' to his party's advantage during the poll.
During his two day visit to the state earlier this month, Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalswamy was flooded with complaints from different political parties against some senior IAS and IPS officers, who were alleged to be working as ruling party activists.
Obviously taking serious cognizance of the complaints, Gopalswamy issued a directive for giving marching orders to state director general of police Bua Singh, his second in command and UP's additional director general for law and order A C Sharma, Principal Home Secretary Satish Agarwal, Agra divisional commissioner Ashok Kumar, district magistrate Sanjay Prasad, Meerut divisional commissioner Deo Datt and senior superintendent of police Navneet Sikera.
The directive also included Kanpur Zonal Inspector General of Police Rizwan Ahmad, Etah District Magistrate Ram Kumar and Saharanpur district magistrate Anil Kumar.
While the common allegation against these officials was their "undue proximity" to Mulayam, state police chief Bua Singh was pointedly charged of attending a major function at the Samajwadi Party state headquarters a few months ago.
The decision was widely welcomed by all rival political parties who hailed the EC for taking the action against what they termed as "committed" bureaucrats and "politicised" top cops.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati was among the first ones to compliment the election commission for shifting the 'tainted' officials.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lalji Tandon told media persons, "We welcome the move as these officials would have tried to influence the election because of their blatant bias for the ruling Samajwadi Party."
While echoing similar sentiment, UP Congress spokesman Akhilesh Singh hoped that 'similar action would follow against a few more suspicious officials.'
Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav was not available for comment. He remained holed up in his official residence with a select team of top bureaucrats and police officers, besides his younger brother and high-profile minister Shivpal Yadav who was known to be masterminding most of the key appointments in the state.