UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered the suspension of three state secretariat employees working as personal secretaries to his government’s ministers after they were purportedly shown negotiating bribes in exchange for contracts and official postings in a sting operation conducted by ABP news channel.
The sting shows the personal secretaries of Minister for Backward Class Welfare Om Prakash Rajbhar, Minister of State for Mining, Excise and Prohibition Archana Pandey, and Minister of State for Basic, Secondary and Higher Education Sandeep Singh purportedly negotiating deals linked to mining contracts, supply of school books, and transfers.
A statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office said he has also ordered FIRs to be filed against the three employees and the formation of a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to investigate the incident. The SIT, under ADG (Lucknow Zone) Rajiv Krishna, has been asked to immediately begin its probe and submit a report within 10 days, it said.
In the sting, Om Prakash Kashyap, private secretary to Rajbhar, is purportedly heard negotiating the transfer of an education official. “Humko lagta hai 30 se 40 toh chalta hai (To me, it looks like 30-40 will do),” he is purportedly heard saying.
Santosh Awasthi, private secretary to Singh, is purportedly heard asking for a share to seal a contract for the supply of free books in government schools. “Maan lijiye aapka 50 crore ka nikla toh 50 crore mein aap unko kya denge, woh hamein bataiye (If you get 50 crore, how much of it will you give him, you tell me that),” he is purportedly heard saying.
S P Tripathi, private secretary to Pandey, is purportedly heard negotiating a mining contract for Saharanpur. “Ten per cent government mein aa raha hai…90 per cent alag se (Ten per cent is coming to the government… 90 per cent is separate),” he is purportedly heard saying.
“The Chief Minister has said that his government has a zero-tolerance policy on corruption, and effective action will be taken if a complaint has been made at any level,” the official statement said. None of the ministers were available for comment.
Of the three, Rajbhar heads the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party, an ally that has been bickering with the BJP over the delay in announcement of a seat-sharing arrangement for the Lok Sabha polls. Rajbhar, an MLA from Zahoorabad in Ghazipur, had also hit out at the Yogi government, alleging neglect of backward classes, law-and-order problems and corruption at the grass-root level.
Sandeep Singh, an MLA from Atrauli in Aligarh, is the grandson of BJP veteran and Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh. Archana Pandey represents Chibramau in Kannauj, and is the daughter of Ram Prakash Tripathi, a BJP leader and former minister.