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Mayavati effigies burn in Mulayam backlash

Lucknow, April 15: Uttar Pradesh was on the boil, with Mulayam Singh Yadav daring chief minister Mayavati to arrest him and his supporters going on the rampage a day after 179 cases were registered against them.

At a rally on homeground Sambhal, Mulayam — named in 135 FIRs — challenged the chief minister to put him behind bars. Elsewhere in the state, his supporters burnt Mayavati’s effigies and set vehicles on fire to register their protest against “the politics of vendetta”. They set three jeeps on fire in Gorakhpur, clashed with police in Bahraich and blocked traffic at a dozen places in Bundelkhand.

After registering 179 cases — 135 against Mulayam and 44 against his supporters — in time for Mayavati’s pardafash rally, police officials didn’t know what was expected of them next. Asked when they would arrest Mulayam and his men, the stock reply was: “We’ll investigate and take action according to law.”

A former Uttar Pradesh chief secretary questioned the legality of the exercise and described it as “a 179-gun salute to the chief minister by her cringing bureaucracy”.

All 179 FIRs were drafted in a senior bureaucrat’s Lucknow residence on Sunday evening on the basis of a list drawn up by a committee headed by chief secretary B.S. Bagga, sources said. “On Monday morning, fax messages were sent to the district magistrates and they were asked to go to the district senior superintendents of police and get the cases registered,” a source said.

The FIR registers from all the police stations concerned were removed on Monday morning. In some police stations, such as Lucknow’s Hazratganj, the FIR register was not returned till Tuesday evening.

The FIR against Mulayam and his men for allegedly concocting and distributing CDs of Mayavati’s address was registered at Hazratganj on Monday morning on the basis of a written complaint to Lucknow’s district magistrate by state BSP chief R.K. Sachan after Sunday midnight.

The 178 remaining FIRs were also registered on Monday morning by the 40 district magistrates. In some instances, cases were lodged against the dead. Mulayam’s co-accused in a case registered at Chakeri police station in Kanpur is former MP Manohar Lal, who died in 1994.

Most cases related to grants of Rs 1-5 lakh to educational societies in Uttar Pradesh from the chief minister’s discretionary fund during Mulayam’s terms in office. The total amount involved was Rs 3.7 crore.

Samajwadi activists have pointed out that in all these cases, utilisation certificates from the district magistrates concerned had been given. The matter was discussed by the Assembly — Mayavati was its member — which endorsed it by passing the budget.

Political circles questioned the propriety of a chief minister investigating all the deeds of a predecessor. “The chief minister cannot be responsible for misuse of every government grant. If this trend starts, God knows where it will lead,” said Ashok Bajpai, chairman of the state’s Public Accounts Committee.

Mayavati’s assertion that her government would inquire into misuse of discretionary funds during Motilal Vora’s term as Governor has raised a more serious question. Vora came to Lucknow today to challenge Mayavati. He said he was ready for a probe by a parliamentary committee but he questioned the state government’s competence to prosecute a Governor.

, reminding Mayavati that “at that time, the state was under Central rule and I was acting as the President’s representative”.

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