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Stripped of crown, not perks and frills

Lucknow, May 28: The car with the red light on top still parks outside his house at Lawrence Terrace. And the official website of the Uttar Pradesh government still lists him as minister.

For Amarmani Tripathi, sacked by his boss Mayavati for alleged involvement in the murder of Hindi poet Madhumita Shukla, life has barely changed.

So while the sack has taken away his right to sign official files, the perks are still there.

Government officials said Tripathi’s name is still there in the website as it has not been updated for some time. But they have no explanation on why he continues to use the official car and avail the services of the personal staff allotted to a minister.

According to a source, the directive that his car and staff should not be withdrawn came from a senior official in the chief minister’s secretariat. “After all, the chief minister has promised to reinstate him if the state CID investigating the murder gives him a clean chit,” an official pointed out.

While the CID is unlikely to complete investigations within the one-month time given by Mayavati, a group of senior officials in the secretariat are hoping for the clean chit in the form of an interim report.

Sources in the Criminal Investigation Department confirmed that they have been asked to prepare an interim report for Mayavati to be submitted after she returns from her foreign tour on June 11.

This poses a problem as investigations so far have come up with fresh evidence that points towards Madhumita’s relationship with the minister and his wife Madhumani’s efforts to terminate the affair by any means.

The poet, who was murdered in her flat earlier this month, was unmarried and six months’ pregnant.

“Even after we get the DNA report on the foetus, we will need at least two to three months to complete investigations and establish the identity (of the father) and the motive of the killer,” a senior CID official said.

According to sources, the sleuths are now concentrating on powerful criminal connections of Tripathi’s in-laws in west Uttar Pradesh. They have grilled the priest who had earlier told civil police that he had conducted Madhumita’s marriage with an IIT Kanpur student, Anuj Mishra.

The priest has now retracted his statement that he conducted the marriage in the presence of Madhumita’s sister Nidhi and a friend of the IIT student. Investigators suspect that the priest was instructed to go to the police with the concocted story to divert the attention from the minister and are now planning to arrest him.

But Tripathi seems unruffled. He continues to hold court at his official residence and has even said he would be reinstated within a month. “I know this because I am innocent and the chief minister has publicly said I will be taken back in the government after the CID clears my name,” he told his supporters.

Political observers, however, feel that reinstating him may not be easy for Mayavati because of the notice issued to the state government on a public interest litigation that demanded the case be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

“The fact that the BJP has also endorsed the demand for a CBI probe into Madhumita’s murder will make things harder for the chief minister,” said a senior BJP leader.

“She will have to depend on the BJP more now that the 14-member Rashtriya Lok Dal has threatened to withdraw support. She cannot afford to ignore the feelings of the BJP MLAs the way she did in the past,” he argued.

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