As outrage mounted over the Unnao rape victim battling for life in a Lucknow hospital and the Opposition demanded answers on the continuance of the rape accused-MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar in the BJP, the party scrambled for cover Tuesday, claiming it had already suspended him in April 2018 when the CBI probe was ordered into the rape case.
A day after he declined to comment on Sengar’s status in the party when The Indian Express reached out to him, UP BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh told reporters Tuesday that he had spoken to his predecessor, Mahendra Nath Pandey, who told him that Sengar had already been suspended from the party.
Pandey, now a Union Minister, said: “He was suspended when CBI probe was ordered in the case. Notice was earlier issued to him.
There were serious allegations against him. He is still suspended.” He said he had conveyed this to Swatantra Dev Singh.
But at least two party office-bearers seemed clueless about the action initiated against Sengar. Satyadev Singh, who became the disciplinary committee head when Pandey was state party chief, said: “Party state president directly looked into that matter. Party state president forwards it to us for further action if he finds it appropriate. Otherwise, he takes a decision at his level. This matter never came before me. “
Unnao BJP district president Shrikant Katiyar said, “I never received any formal communication from the party state unit regarding suspension or any other action against MLA Sengar. I have no information about this. The state team has dealt with the matter because Sengar joined the party in Lucknow.”
On the other hand, BJP state spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said the party state unit had issued a show cause notice to Sengar last year. He said Sengar had submitted a reply to Pandey. The party disciplinary committee had examined the reply and decided to suspend him. “But BJP did not issue any press release on the action at that time. Now when this matter has got highlighted again, and media has asked questions about his membership in the party, the BJP has shared the information that Sengar is already suspended. He was suspended that time itself.”
Explained | Twists & turns in Unnao story
Sengar, the BJP MLA from Bangarmau, is a four-time lawmaker who has changed parties and assembly constituencies. Sengar (52) started his political career in 2002 when he was elected MLA from Unnao Sadar on a BSP ticket. He joined the SP before the 2007 assembly elections. He contested from Bangarmau as the SP candidate and won. In the 2012 elections, he contested as the SP candidate from Bhagwant Nagar constituency and won again. In the middle of the 2017 assembly election, Sengar joined the BJP and was named as the party nominee from Bangarmau.
Everyone in Unnao district, including authorities, acknowledge him as a political heavyweight, and speak of his influence during SP rule. When he did not get a berth in the Akhilesh Yadav cabinet even after two years, he once hurled expletives at the party leadership publicly. But no action was taken.
Such is Sengar’s clout that the rape victim, after running from pillar to post in vain, attempted immolation outside the CM’s residence in Lucknow, seeking his intervention. She alleged that her father had been framed and sent to jail on the orders of the MLA.
CBI investigations showed that the then station officer of the local police station had been in constant touch with Sengar and took instructions from him while the girl moved to Lucknow, seeking the CM’s help.
Even after his arrest by the CBI, he allegedly led a luxurious lifestyle behind the bars in the Unnao jail and had to be moved to Sitapur jail, around 130 km away, following a complaint from the victim’s family that he was using his clout to threaten them and influence witnesses.
After the Lok Sabha poll results, Sakshi Maharaj, BJP MP from Unnao, reached Sitapur jail to meet Sengar. To queries from the media, Sakshi Maharaj said: “He has been lodged in jail for a long time. I had come to meet him and thank him after the election.”
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