Updated: January 31, 2019 5:36:36 pm
The so-called “memorials scam” refers to allegations of financial irregularities in the construction of multiple Dalit memorials, including statues of BSP founder Kanshi Ram and BSP’s election symbol ‘elephant’, during the time of the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh between 2007 and 2012.
The UP Vigilance Department had registered a complaint in 2014, when Akhilesh Yadav was Chief Minister, which alleged the scam had “resulted in the loss of over Rs 111,44,35,066 to the government exchequer and unlawful gain to public servants and private individuals”.
The Mayawati government had built the memorials, statues and parks at a cost of over Rs 2,600 crore in Lucknow, Noida, and a few other places in the state.
The Vigilance FIR was registered on the basis of a report by the UP Lokayukta, who alleged in May 2013 that Rs 1,400 crore of public money had been siphoned off in the construction of the memorials. This, the Lokayukta said, was 34% of the budget for the construction of memorials and parks.
The report indicted 199 individuals, including Mayawati’s then close aides and former ministers Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Babu Singh Kushwaha, and 12 of her party MLAs for alleged “wrong-doings’ in the purchase of sandstone for the memorials.
Soon after becoming CM in March 2012, Akhilesh Yadav had asked the Lokayukta to probe alleged irregularities and corruption in supply of pink sandstone from Mirzapur. While submitting his report to Akhilesh, Lokayukta N K Mehrotra had recommended the filing of FIRs under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 409 of the IPC (criminal breach of trust by public servant) against 19 persons, including Siddiqui and Kushwaha.
Mehrotra had, however, told reporters that there was no evidence of Mayawati’s personal involvement in the alleged scam.
In September last year, Allahabad High Court had sought a status report on the UP Vigilance probe.
Thursday’s Enforcement Directorate action is likely to be politically interpreted in the context of the approaching Lok Sabha elections, for which the erstwhile sworn enemies SP and BSP have tied up with the goal of defeating the BJP in UP.
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