A day after a non-bailable warrant was issued against UP Transport Minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati in a rape case and his passport impounded, Governor Ram Naik wrote to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, asking him on what basis was Prajapati continuing as a minister in his cabinet.
Seeking a response as soon as possible from the Chief Minister, Naik wrote that the continuation of Prajapati as cabinet minister and lack of action against him even after the Supreme Court took cognizance of the rape allegation against him raised “serious questions” on the “loktantrik shuchita” (democratic sacredness), “samvaidhanik maryada” (constitutional decorum) and “samvaidhanik naitikta” (constitutional conduct).
WATCH | UP Governor Questions Rape Accused Gayatri Prasad Prajapati’s Continuance As Minister
There has been no sign of the MLA from Amethi — Prajapati contested from the seat again this Assembly election — who is said to have the backing of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. He was sacked by Akhilesh on September 12 after the High Court ordered a CBI probe into illegal mining in the state. Around that time, the SP was also witnessing a bitter family tussle for control of the party. But Akhilesh had to reinstate him days later after Mulayam defended Prajapati. On October 2, Prajapati was allotted charge of the transport department and the mining portfolio he held earlier was taken away from him.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Governor Naik said, “Somebody can say that I am interfering in government but I am not. I am just seeking information under my right as listed in Article 167 (b) of the Constitution. Moreover, I even read in some newspapers that Chief Minister himself expressed publicly that Gayatri should have surrendered, which means that he also feels that it is not proper that Gayatri has not surrendered.”
He said he had conveyed the same to the Chief Minister in his letter. “According to the Constitution, I cannot sack a minister. It is done by the Chief Minister and I approve it. But there is a provision in the Constitution where I can seek information. Thus, I sought opinion of the Chief Minister from the constitutional and morality point of view for letting Gayatri continue in his cabinet.”
“I cannot remove the minister without the advice of the Chief Minister. It is up to him to decide whether he wants to continue (with) a person in his government on whose character there is a blot. I can only seek information, which I did,” Naik said.
Sources said that since Akhilesh is travelling in eastern Uttar Pradesh for campaigning, the Governor, who sent the letter Sunday morning, has asked his office to inform the Chief Minister immediately so that he can respond as soon as possible.
Article 167 (b) of the Constitution states that it shall be the duty of the Chief Minister of each State “to furnish such information relating to the administration of the affairs of the State and proposals for legislation as the Governor may call for”.
In his letter to the Chief Minister, the Governor wrote that even the Union Home Ministry had not only issued a look-out notice for Prajapati but also impounded his passport, suspecting that he might abscond to another country.
A women had moved Supreme Court, alleging that Prajapati, along with six others, had raped her at Prajapati’s official residence in Lucknow in 2014. She had alleged that Prajapati had used photographs of the gangrape to blackmail her for months. She also alleged that a similar assault was made on her minor daughter in July 2016. On the directions of the Supreme Court, an FIR was lodged against Prajapati and the others.
At a poll rally in Ambedkarnagar Sunday, BJP president Amit Shah said sending Prajapati “behind bars” would be one of the first tasks in the event of the party forming government in the state. “As soon as the BJP forms the government in UP on March 11, we would search Prajapati even from hell and send him to jail,” Shah was quoted by PTI. A day earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had accused the SP-Congress of chanting “Gayatri Prajapati Mantra”.