Pulled Akhilesh government’s strings, got lucrative UP lifetime award

Officers, friends, family — Yash Bharti awards were doled out 2012-17.

Written by Shyamlal Yadav | New Delhi | Updated: August 30, 2017 8:59 am
akhilesh yadav, samajwadi party, sp govt, uttar pradesh, up lifetime achievement award, akhilesh cm, indian express Akhilesh Yadav with Yash Bharti winners last year. File

A TV anchor who conducted the Saifai Mahotsav for the Akhilesh Yadav government; an officer at the Chief Minister’s Office who recommended his own name; a researcher who listed his two-month “field work” in Meghalaya as an achievement; self-styled founder of “the revolutionary ideology of manufacturing unique and handmade clothes based on jyotish and psychology;” candidates recommended by the CM’s uncle and a local editor.

These are illustrative of the winners of the UP government’s lucrative Yash Bharti awards between 2012 and 2017, a Right to Information application by The Indian Express has found. These awards, meant to “generate social awareness in the society,” carry a one-time payment of Rs 11 lakh and a lifetime monthly pension of Rs 50,000. These were instituted by Akhilesh’s father and former UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav in 1994 but were discontinued during the BSP and BJP regimes in between.

The Indian Express accessed nomination details of 142 of the estimated 200 winners in 2012-17 under the RTI Act to find that it was largely an exercise in patronage and favours — there was no defined process of application or selection. Many of the winners were linked to the Samajwadi Party, many applications were sent through the Chief Minister’s Office although the Culture Department was, officially, in charge of the awards.

RTI records reveal that at least 21 winners sought the awards for themselves by writing directly to the CMO. At least six winners were recommended by SP leaders, including two by Akhilesh’s uncle Shivpal Yadav and one by senior leader Azam Khan. Two names were put forward by Raja Bhaiyya, a former minister in the Akhilesh government. Three winners were “endorsed” by Sunita Aron, Resident Editor in Lucknow of the Hindustan Times, via an email to the Chief Minister’s office.

The Yogi Adityanath government is reviewing these awards, specifically the provision of lifetime pensions that was introduced by the SP government in 2015 — one winner, at the age of 19, is the daughter of an IAS officer.

Anuradha Goel, Joint Director, Culture Department, UP, stated that while Rs 4.66 crore was earmarked for these pensions this year, 2017-18, no money has been spent so far. She said that the Culture Directorate has asked for a review of the awards. However, when contacted, UP Culture Minister Lakshmi Narain Chaudhary said: “There is some thinking within the government on the Yash Bharti awards and pensions but we have not taken any decision (on whether to scrap them).”

When contacted, Rajendra Chaudhary, SP spokesperson, said, “The BJP wants to stop every good work done by our government. Yash Bharti was to felicitate personalities from different fields. Every awardee was selected by a high-level committee after due process.”

What the due process was isn’t clear. Consider some of the winners:

* Shikha Pande was an external co-ordinator for Doordarshan when her name was recommended by Jai Shankar Dube, additional district magistrate of Lucknow on September 9, 2016. Her CV states: “Since last four years, I have conducted the Chief Minister’s programmes at 5, Kalidas Marg, which were appreciated by the CM.”

* Ashok Nigam, who won the award in 2013, writes in his CV: “Presently executive editor of Samajwadi Party magazine Samajwadi Bulletin.” He adds that he is “basically an author of socialist ideology.”

* Ratish Chandra Agrawal, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) with the Chief Minister, recommended his own name to the Culture Department on September 3, 2016.

* Nawab Zafar Meer Abdullah, who won the award in the sports category, is a descendant of Nawab Ahmed Ali Khan, the prime minister of erstwhile Awadh. His CV states his profession as “business” and his workplace as “Lucknow and whole India”.

* Kashinath Yadav, national president, Samajwadi Party Cultural Cell, submitted his CV on April 27, 2016, under the party’s letterhead. His CV states that he “conducted different programmes, sang and publicised policies of Samajwadi Party as its chief cultural cell chief” and that “he has performed Bhojpuri folk songs in the Saifai Mahotsav since 1997”.

* Hariprasad Mishra wrote to the CM on May 31, 2016, that he was a “jyotish expert, vaastu expert and doing social work since 40 years”. On his one-page CV, he wrote that he has “performed more than 10,000 marriages and performed marriages of poor families free of cost and have written religious books”.

* Maninder Kumar Mishra, son of SP leader Murlidhar Mishra and a PG diploma-holder from Indian Institute of Mass Communication, wrote in his CV that he conducted field work for two months on the Khasi tribe of Meghalaya in 2010. Mishra has authored books on socialism, including one on Akhilesh, titled “Samajwadi Model ke Yuva Dhwajwahak: Akhilesh.”

* Oma Upadhyay, who got the award in 2016, stated in his CV that he “founded the revolutionary ideology of manufacturing unique and handmade clothes based on jyotish and psychology in 2010”.

* Archana Satish’s proposal was prepared while she was conducting the award ceremony in Lucknow on October 27, 2016, and approved on stage by Akhilesh. Her CV states: “The anchoring of the prestigious Saifai Mahotsava programme is also being done by me for the last three years”. It adds that she “anchored a very prestigious programme of UP government NRI DIWAS at Agra on January 4 and 5, 2016”.

* Surabhi Ranjan is the wife of then chief secretary Alok Ranjan. Her name was recommended by Mahesh Kumar Gupta, then commissioner, Lucknow Division, who wrote on September 28, 2015: “Surabhi Ranjan is a renowned singer and the pride of UP… Devoted to music, Ranjan has performed at Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi; Lt Governor, Delhi’s Raj Nivas; Lucknow Raj Bhawan… and several other places since the last 30 years.”

* Shivani Matanhelia, daughter of Congress leader the late Jagdish Matanhelia, received the award in 2016. She teaches music at MDPG College at Pratapgarh and her CV states that she received eights awards earlier, seven of them from local organisations in Pratapgarh.

* Hemant Sharma, the senior journalist who resigned recently from India TV, received the award in 2016. His CV states: “Pehle lekhan ko gujar basar ka sahara maana, ab jeevan jeene ka (Earlier, I considered writing as a means of livelihood, now it is a way of life).” It claims that he was the “only journalist who covered the Mahakumbh 1989, 2001 and 2013”.

According to the RTI records, one of the youngest winners is Sthavi Asthana, 20, who studies Law at the National Law University, Delhi, and is the daughter of Himanshu Kumar, a principal secretary-rank IAS officer with the UP government. Asthana won the award last year in the sports category for Equestrianism.

Records show that three nominees were endorsed by Sunita Aron, Resident Editor in Lucknow of the Hindustan Times: Dr Qamar Rehman, director and dean (research) at Amity University; Ravi Kapur, photographer; Atul Tiwari, filmmaker.

The records include an email Aron wrote to G S Naveen Kumar, then special secretary to the chief minister, under the subject “Pl remind CM”. “Dr Qamar Rehman had given her bio to CM to Yash Bharti. CM had marked the letter and given to — I don’t remember whom. She is a deserving candidate. Ravi Kapur — Photographer — Perhaps CM had promised him Yash Bharti. If so, pls remind him. Atul Tewari — a very talented author, film maker who made a serial on Constitution, is also from Lucknow. He has also asked me to mention his name.”

The records include Kumar’s response: “Dear Madam, these are Yash Bharti references from Honble CM. Already forwarded to Partha sir. He asked me to share it with you as well. For your kind perusal.” The secretary to the chief minister at the time was Partha Sarthi Sen Sharma.

When contacted, Aron said, “If I can get the Yash Bharti for others, why would I not try for it myself? In fact, I turned down the offer from the CM’s office. All the three had met the CM in their individual capacity. They excel in their field. I just endorsed their credentials. There is a difference between feedback and recommendation.”

Records show that the names of Yogesh Mishra, a journalist, and Sunil Jogi, chairman of the Hindustan Academy in Allahabad, were recommended by Shivpal Yadav. Urdu poet Nawaz Deobandi was recommended by Azam Khan, and Narendra Singh Rana and Deepraj Rana by Raja Bhaiya. Narendra Singh is a BJP leader and Deepraj is listed as an actor.

Awardees whose details are provided by the Culture Department of UP:

* Amir Raza Hussain, Lucknow, Theater. Who recommended: Self application

* Pandit Chhannulal Mishra, Varanasi, Classical Singer. Who recommended: Special Secretary, Chief Minister, UP.

* Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Kanpur, Singer. Who recommended: Special Secretary, Chief Minister, UP.

* Javed Ali, Muzaffarnagar, Singer. Who recommended: Special Secretary, Chief Minister, UP.

* Vivek Gupta, Ghaziabad, Hockey. Who recommended: District Magistrate, Etawah.

* Ramkrishna Rajput, Farrukhabad, Art. Who recommended: Urmila Rajput, former MLA, Samajwadi Party, UP.

* Sarita Sharma, Freelance Writing. Who recommended: Sudhakar Adeeb, Director, Hindi Sansthan, UP.

* Mewalal Yadav, Varanasi, Wresteling. Who recommended: Special Secretary, Chief Minister, UP.

* Suresh Raina, Ghaziabad, Cricketer. Who recommended: Special Secretary, Chief Minister, UP.

* Satyamitra Dube, Noida, Literature. Who recommended: Special Secretary, Chief Minister, UP.

* Rajendra Yadav, Agra, Literature. Who recommended: Special Secretary, Chief Minister, UP.

* Narsingh Yadav, Varanasi, Wrestling. Who recommended: Special Secretary, Chief Minister, UP.

* Anshu Tomar, Bagpath, Wrestling. Who recommended: Special Secretary, Chief Minister, UP.

* Mastram Kapur, Litreture. Who recommended: Self application.

* Zaheed Hasan alias Waseem Barelvi, Bareilly. Poet. Who recommended: Not known

* Avdhesh Mishra, Faizabad, Artist. Who recommended: Abhishek Mishra, then minister

* Iftekhar Nadeem, Ghaziabad, Painter. Who recommended: District Magistrate, Ghaziabad.

* Pandit Vikas Maharaj, Varanasi, Sarod player. Who recommended: Special Secretary, Chief Minister, UP.

* Iqbal Ahmed Siddiqi, Lucknow, Ghazal singer. Who recommended: Naved Siddiqi, Member of Samajwadi Party, state executive, UP.

* Murarilal Sharma, Lalitpur, Classical singing. Who recommended: District Magistrate, Lalitpur.

* Hiralal Yadav, Varanasi, Folk song. Who recommended: Sanjay Yadav, active worker, Samajwadi Party, UP.

* Rakesh Upadhyay, Gorakhpur, Bhojpuri singer, Kavita Pande, Regional officer, ICCR Lucknow.

* Bhagat Singh, Baghpat, Wrestling coach. Who recommended: Director, Sports, Government of UP.

* Lal Bachan Yadav, Gorakhpur, Wrestling coach. Who recommended: Shahabuddin, Director, Sports, Govt of UP.

* Avneesh Yadav, Etawah, Volleyball. Who recommended: Shahabuddin, Director, Sports, Govt of UP.

* Sunil Kumar Rana, Bagpath, Wrestling. Who recommended: Secretary to Chief Minister, UP.

* Narendra Singh Rana, Muzaffarnagar, Power lifting. Who recommended: Raja Bhaiya, Minister in Akhilesh Government.

* Anandeshwar Pandey, Lucknow, Athlete. Who recommended: Not known.

* Richa Joshi, Lucknow, Music. Who recommended: Not known.

* Brian Silas, Kanpur, Music. Who recommended: Chetan Narain Rai.

* Gaurav Khanna, Lucknow, Badminton. Who recommended: Late Akhilesh Das, former union minister.

* Archna Satish, Lucknow. Newsreader in Doordarshan, Lucknow. Who recommended: Not known.

* Suhas LY, Azamgarh (he was district magistrate, is an IAS of 2007 batch), Para-badminton. Who recommended: Not known.

* Abbas Raza Nayyar, Lucknow, Literature (he is an associate professor at Lucknow University). Who recommended: Not known.

* Mansoor Hasan, Lucknow, Medical (when nominated he was Chief Cardiologist at Divine Hospital, Lucknow). Who recommended: Not known.

* Leut. Gen. (rtd) AK Singh, Agra, Military service (when nominated he was Leutinant Governor of Andman and Nicobar Islands). Who recommended: Not known.

* Qamar Rehman, Noida, Science. Who recommended (endorsed): Sunita Aron, Resident Editor, Hindustan Times, Lucknow and IAS officer Pranjal Yadav.

* Ravi Kapur, Lucknow, Art Photography. Who recommended (endorsed): Applied himself, recommended by Sunita Aron, Resident Editor, Hindustan Times, Lucknow.

* Atul Tewari, Lucknow, Film maker. Who recommended (endorsed): Sunita Aron, Resident Editor, Hindustan Times, Lucknow.

* Murad Ali Khan, Muzaffarnagar, Film. Who recommended: Not known.

* Deen Mohammed Deen, Mainpuri, Literature. Who recommended: Self application.

* Rachna Govil, Lucknow, Sports (Arjun awardee). Who recommended: Not known.

* Shikha Pandey, Lucknow, Doordarshan news reader. Who recommended: Jai Shankar Dube, Additional District Magistrate, Lucknow.

* Rameshwar Nath Mishra, Lucknow, Khadi and Village Industries (when nominated he was Secretary, Regional Gandhi Ashram, Lucknow). Who recommended: Self application.

* Pramod Chaudhary, Lucknow, Social Work, Agriculture and trade. Who recommended: Uday Pratap Singh, Executive Director, UP Hindi Sansthan.

* Oma the Ak alias Oma Upadhyay, Varanasi, Jyotish. Who recommended: Not known.

* Sarvesh Asthana, Hardoi, social work. Who recommended: Not known.

* Padma Gidwani, Lucknow, Music. Who recommended: Not known.

* Sharib Rudoulvi alias S. Musaiyab Abbas, Lucknow, Literature. Who recommended: Not known.

* Praveen Kumar, Meerut, Cricket. Who recommended: Not known.

* Shivani Matenhelia, Pratapgarh, Music. Who recommended: Not known.

* RR Banerjee, Gorakhpur, Homoeopathic doctor. Who recommended: Not known.

* Ram Milan Yadav, Gorakhpur, Wrestling. Who recommended: Chinta Yadav, Samajwadi Party leader Gorakhpur.

* Ashok Nigam, Lucknow, Journalism. Who recommended: Not known.

* Rajkrishna Mishra, Lucknow, Literature. Who recommended: Ranjna Vajpayee, President, Samadwadi Party Mahila Sabha.

* Ratish Chandra Agrawal, Lucknow, Medical (when nominated he was OSD to Chief Minister). Who recommended: Self application as OSD to Chief Minister.

* Soni Chaurasia, Varanasi, Sports. Who recommended: Commissioner, Varanasi.

* Anil Rastogi, Mumbai (born in Lucknow), Acting. Who recommended: Self application.

* Ram Kumar Mishra (son of Pt Chhannulal Mishra), Varanasi. Who recommended: Self application.

* Kamal Khan, Lucknow, Ghazal. Who recommended: Self application to Chief Minister.

* Nawab Zaafar Meer Abdullah, Lucknow, Social work. Who recommended: Self application.

* Aftab Sabri, Mumbai (born in Saharanpur), Kavvali. Who recommended: Self application to Chief Minister.

* Gourdas Choudhary, Lucknow, Medical. Who recommended: Self application.

* Swaroop Kumari Bakhshi, Lucknow, Literature. Who recommended: Self application.

* Lt Gen. (Rtd) Anil Chait, Lucknow, Administration. Who recommended: Self application to Chief Minister.

* Bashir Badr, Bhopal, Poet. Who recommended: Self application.

* Gargi Yadav, Meerut, Sports. Who recommended: Self application.

* Yogesh Mishra, Lucknow, Journalist. Who recommended: Shivpal Singh Yadav, Minister in Akhilesh Yadav government.

* Manoj Muntashir, Mumbai (born in UP), Music. Who recommended: Not known.

* Anubhav Sinha, Mumbai (born in Allahabad). Film. Who recommended: Self application.

* Sumona Chakravarty, Mumbai, Who recommended: Not known.

* Varun Singh Bhati, Noida, Basketball. Who recommended: Not known.

* Maheshwar Tewari, Basti, Literature. Who recommended: Not known.

* Saurabh Shukla, Mumbai (born in Gorakhpur), Film. Who recommended: Self application.

* Mohammed Aslam Warsi, Bareilly, Singing. Who recommended: Self application.

* Farooq Ahmed, Unnao, Social work. Who recommended: Self application.

* Sayyed Mohammed Hassan, Basti, Unani medicine. Who recommended: Self application.

* Sabiha Anwar, Hardoi, Literature. Who recommended: Nihal Ahmed Chaudhary, Member UP Planning Commission.

* Suman Yadav, Lucknow, Sports. Who recommended: Seeta Bhushan Yadav, Samajwadi Party leader from Deoria.

* Rakesh Kapur, Lucknow, Medical. Who recommended: District Magistrate, Lucknow.

* Venkat Changavalli, Hyderabad, Social Work. Who recommended: Self application.

* Kewal Kumar, Lucknow, Music. Who recommended: Self application.

* Atma Prakash Mishra, News reader at Doordarshan Lucknow. Who recommended: Rama Arun Trivedi, Head of Programme, Prasar Bharti Lucknow.

* Ustad Gulfam Ahmed Sahab, Bulandhahar, Music. Who recommended: Self application to Chief Minister.

* Anupama Raag, Lucknow, Music (when nominated she was OSD in Lucknow Development Authority). Who recommended: Self application.

* Kashinath Yadav, Ghazipur, Folk singing. Who recommended: Self application to Chief Minister.

* Noor Allassaba, Meerut, Art. Who recommended: Not known.

* Hariprasad Mishra, Lucknow, Jyotish. Who recommended: Self application to Chief Minister.

* Ustad Nazim Hussain, Varanasi, Music. Who recommended: Not known.

* Maninder Kumar Mishra, Basti, Literature. Who recommended: Not known.

* Rajendra Singh, Bagpath, Water conservation. Who recommended: Self application.

* Pandit Vishwanath, Meerut, Music. Who recommended: Self application.

* Ramakant Yadav, Etawah, Medical (he was head of neurology department at UP Institute of Medical Sciences, Saifai, Etawah when nominated). Who recommended: Self application.

* Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Aligarh, Paytm. Who recommended: Self application to Chief Minister.

* Arjun Vajpayee, Noida, Mountaineer. Who recommended: Director, Culture, Govt of UP.

* Bhuvaneshwar Kumar Singh Maavi, Bulandshahar, Cricket. Who recommended: Not known.

* Piyush Chawla, Moradabad, Cricket. Who recommended: Not known.

* Nasiruddin Shah, Mumbai (born in UP), Film. Who recommended: Not known.

* Gyanendra Pandey, Lucknow, Cricket. Who recommended: Not known.

* Santoshanand, Bilandshahar, Film. Who recommended: Not known.

* Hamida Habibulla, Lucknwo, Social work. Who recommended: Not known.

* Alok Pareek, Agra, Medical (he is owner of Pareek Hospital and Research Centre, Agra). Who recommended: Not known.

* Kamla Sriwastava, Lucknow, Literature. Who recommended: Self application.

* Arunima Sinha, Lucknow, Mountaineer. Who recommended: Jai Shankar Dubey, Additional District Magistrate, Lucknow.

* Sthavi Asthana, Delhi (Born in Allahabad), Equestrianism. Who recommended: Self application.

* Major Ashok Kumar Singh, Lucknow, Armyman (first physically handicapped yachsman to sail the world in a sailing boat). Who recommended: Self application.

* Sudhir Mishra, Mumbai (born in UP), Film. Who recommended: Self application.

* Nahid Abedi, Varanasi, Leiterature. Who recommended: Not known.

* Aparna Kumar (IPS officer), Lucknow, Mountaineer. Who recommended: Arvind Kumar Singh Gope, Minister in Akhilesh government.

* Ashok Chakradhar, Delhi (born in Khurja), Literature. Who recommended: self application.

* Anuj Chaudhary, Muzaffarnagar, Wrestling (he is Dy. SP in UP Police). Who recommended: Self application.

* Vishal Bhardwaj, Mumbai, Film. Who recommended: Not known.

* Raju Sriwastava, Kanpur, Comedy. Who recommended: Self application to Chief Minister.

* Seema Punia, Meerut, Athlete. Who recommended: PK Sriwastava, Secretary of UP Athlete Association.

* Vijay Singh Chauhan, Agra, Athlete. Who recommended: Self application.

* Abhinn Shyam Gupta, Allahabad, Badminton. Nishant Sinha, Secretary of UP Badminton Association.

* Naresh Trehan, Delhi, Medical. Who recommended: Not known.

* Anurag Kashyap, Mumbai, Film. Who recommended: Not known.

* Surabhi Ranjan (wife of then Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan), Lucknow, Music. Who recommended: Mahesh Kumar Gupta, Commissioner, Lucknow.

* Kumkum Adarsh, Lucknow, Kathak dancer. Who recommended: Self application.

* Ankit Tewari, Kanpur, Music.Who recommended: Self application.

* Ustad Gulshan Bharti, Lucknow, Artist. Who recommended: Not known.

* Subhash Gupta, Delhi (born in Deoria), Medical. Who recommended: Not known.

* Sudha Singh, Raebareilly, Sports. Who recommended: Not known.

* Madhukar Trivedi, Lucknow, Journalism. Who recommended: Chief Minister’s office.

* Dinesh Lal Yadav alias Nirahua Yadav, Ghazipur. Who recommended: Chief Minister’s office.

* Manu Kumari Pal, Kannauj, Athlete. Who recommended: District Magistrate, Kannauj.

* Alim-ulla-Siddiqi, Lucknow, Artist. Who recommended: Chief Minister’s Office.

* Sarvesh Yadav, Meerut, Shooting. Who recommended: Chief Minister’s Office.

* Chakresh Jain, Ferozabad, Goldsmith. Who recommended: Uday Pratap Singh, Executive director, Hindi Sansthan, UP.

* Hemant Sharma, Delhi (born in Varanasi), Journalism. Who recommended: Not known.

* Lalji Yadav, Varanasi, Wrestling. Who recommended: District Magistrate, Varanasi.

* Imran Khan Pratapgarhi, Allahabad, Urdu poet. Who recommended: Not known.

* Girija Shankar, Meerut, Literature. Who recommended: Mulayam Singh Yadav.

* Brigadier (Rtd) T. Prabhakar, Etawah, Medical (director of UP Institute of Medical Sciences, Saifai). Department of Health, Govt of UP.

* Wazir Ahmed Khan, Rampur, Chess. Sports Depertment, Govt of UP.

* Sunil Jogi, Allahabad, Literature. Who recommended: Shivpal Singh Yadav, Minister in Akhilesh government.

* Gopal Chaturvedi, Delhi, Literature. Who recommended: Not known.

* Jagbir Singh, Delhi (born in Agra), Sports. Who recommended: Not known.

* Nawaj Deobandi, Deoband, Urdu poet. Who recommended: Azam Khan, Minister in Akhilesh government.

* Ravikant, Lucknow, Medical (Vice Chancellor King Geoprge Medical University, Lucknow, when nominated). Who recommended: Harshvardhan Agrawal, Help U Education Trust, Lucknow.

* Anwar Ahmed alias Anwar Jalalpuri, Ambedkarnagar, Literature. Who recommended: Chief Minister’s office.

(Not known means: Not provided by Department of Culture under RTI Act)

Some names are given on UP government website as awardees of Yash Bharti during the Akhilesh Yadav government, but the Department of Culture did not provide their details to The Indian Express. These names include Budhi Prakash, Girdhar Lal Mishra, Poonam Yadav, Rita Ganguli, Kumkum Dhar, Jasjit Shergil, Urmil Kumar Thapaliyal, Khusbir Singh Shad, Geetanjali Sharma, Vishnu Saxena, Haqim Sayyed Jillurrehman, Yogesh Gaur, Alka Tomar, Jaikrishna Agrawal, TP Trivedi, Rajkumar Verma, Bhagirath Tripathi, Darshan Singh Yadav, Ramprakash Singh, Vishnu Yadav, Dharmendra Singh Yadav, Abhishek Yadav, Vijaypal Yadav, Rekha Bhardwaj, Mata Prasad Tripathi, Vansh Gopal Yadav, Deviprasad Pande, Sheetla Pandey, Lal Bachan Yadav, Jagdish Gandhi, Rajesh Yadav, Shweta Priyadarshini, Munavvar Anjar.

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