PAWAN PANDEY or Tej Narain Pandey, expelled from the SP by Shivpal Yadav, is minister of state for forests in Akhilesh Yadav’s cabinet. Seen as close to Akhilesh, Pandey has been accused of beating up party MLC Ashu Malik, who is known to be close to Mulayam Singh Yadav as well as Shivpal. Shivpal, in fact, has written to Akhilesh recommending Pandey be sacked from the cabinet too. Shivpal has alleged that Pandey had assaulted Malik at the CM’s official residence on October 24. When contacted, Pandey denied the assault. “This is a conspiracy against me. No such incident has happened,” Pandey said.
A former student union leader of Lucknow University, Pandey is a first-time MLA from Ayodhya in Faizabad district. “I will continue working to strengthen Samajwadi Party, Netaji (Mulayam) and Akhilesh with a target to ensure that Akhilesh becomes CM again after the 2017 polls. The SP is in my heart and spirit and that cannot be removed by merely a letter issued by Shivpal Yadav,” he said.
Pandey is the seventh Akhilesh aide in a prominent post to be expelled by Shivpal within a month.
In 2012, when there was no rift, Pandey had earned praise from both Mulayam and Akhilesh after winning his seat against the BJP’s Lallu Singh in Ayodhya, a safforn stronghold. Lallu Singh had been MLA from the seat for five consecutive terms. The giantkiller was rewarded with a berth, initially made MoS for Entertainment Tax. After the party’s poor showing in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Pandey was removed as minister along with three others in June 2014. He regained Akhilesh’s confidence, however, as was evident when he was reinducted in 2015, this time as minister of state for forests.
Before contesting his first assembly election, Pandey had been an active student leader at Lucknow University, elected vice-president of the students’ union in 2004-2005 as candidate of the Samajwadi Party’s student wing, Chhatra Sabha. He graduated from student politics to join his maternal uncle Jai Shanker Pandey, who has been district president of Samajwadi Party in Faizabad since the foundation of the party. Pandey used to be MLA from Ayodhya, having won as a Janata Dal candidate in 1989. It was after his defeat that Lallu Singh had been winning the seat. And it was Jai Shanker Pandey’s stature that helped Pawan get the ticket from Ayodhya.