While Congress leaders earlier made no attempt to ascertain the truth of the matter, the ruling Uttar Pradesh government now has no case to defend, says Renu Mittal
The suspension of Durga Shakti Nagpal, a young IAS officer, is likely to be withdrawn by the Uttar Pradesh government as the case has become extremely high-profile.
The government led by Akhilesh Yadav is left with very little to defend the case for her suspension, say highly-placed sources in the UP government.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, bringing to his notice the case of the young IAS officer and asking him to ensure that Nagpal is not "unfairly treated".
It is interesting that all these days, the Congress party neither took up the case of the IAS officer nor used its party platform to criticise the UP government (which supports the United Progressive Alliance in Parliament) for its action against the IAS officer.
It was obvious that the Congress leaders made no attempt to ascertain the truth of the matter from their own sources.
A senior Congress leader pointed out that Gandhi obviously wants to take credit for defending the officer as well as for the fact that the suspension was withdrawn because she put pressure by taking up her case.
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was away on a six-day holiday with his Member of Parliament wife Dimple, has returned to Lucknow. In the meantime, an enquiry committee was set up to probe the entire issue and the report is likely to come in soon.
Sources say that UP Chief Secretary Javed Usmani, a highly respected officer who had earlier served in the Prime Minister’s Office during the tenure of H D Deve Gowda, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh, was away on leave for 15 days.
In his absence, the officiating chief secretary went ahead and ordered Nagpal's suspension, on the instructions of Yadav.
It is also learnt that Samajwadi Party leader and sand contractor Narendra Bhatti -- who has been seen boasting on camera that he had Nagpal suspended in 41 minutes -- is not the only player in the illegal sand operations taking place in Uttar Pradesh.
Businessman Ponty Chaddha, who was recently murdered, had strong links with the Samajwadi Party. He was reportedly a major part of the sand mafia as well as being a beneficiary of the illegal operation.
It is learnt that when Nagpal cracked down on the sand mafia, Chaddha’s family members were worst hit. They used their influence to have the district mining officer transferred to an inconsequential posting in Bulandsher.
Another activist who had raised the issue of the sand mafia was killed recently.
On his return, Chief Secretary Usmani called Nagpal and asked her to give a representation on her case, which she did by saying she was unfairly treated. That is part of the legal process followed, say senior officials.
It is learnt that the ruling Samajwadi Party is not keen on the issue being taken up in Parliament as the nation has reacted with outrage over the manner in which the Akhilesh Yadav government is apparently protecting mafia dons, at the cost of an officer who has been doing her job.
What has made the situation worse is that the UP government now has no case to defend.
The Gautam Budh Nagar district magistrate has given a report in favour of Nagpal. Even the local villagers have supported her, saying she was being victimised for merely doing her job.
The issue is likely to be resolved by the weekend, say sources, and if her suspension is withdrawn, the issue will not be entered in her Confidential Report.
Senior UP officials say that the matter has tarred the party’s reputation.
Samajwadi Party leaders are now trying to do damage control by saying the entire issue is part of a larger conspiracy by the Bharatiya Janata Party, since Nagpal’s father reportedly has close links with the BJP.
SP leader Azam Khan wants all those involved in the case to be punished, including the DM, for not bringing all the facts to the notice of the chief minister.
Khan has even stated that once the chief minister had ordered the suspension, the DM had no business saying anything to the contrary. He should have kept quiet, said Khan, or at least submitted his report in secret.
Not to be outdone, turncoat Naresh Aggarwal, who has changed innumerable parties and is seen as an opportunist at the best of times, has criticised Nagpal for creating communal strife in Uttar Pradesh, though he is yet to explain how exactly she managed to do that.
He has now taken on Sonia Gandhi over the letter she wrote to the prime minister.
Agrawal has declared that she should write two more letters, one to Ashok Khemka, the Haryana government officer who took on her son-in-law Robert Vadra and the other to Vadra himself.
Vadra had bought large amounts of land in Haryana and the issue of conversion of these lands by the ruling government was taken up by Khemka, who was then allegedly victimised by the Haryana government.