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Taint on another UP minister

Lucknow, May 30: After being forced to sack Amarmani Tripathi for his alleged involvement in the murder of Hindi poet Madhumita, Mayavati finds another member of her Cabinet in the dock.

Two men, who were arrested yesterday from a guesthouse here with more than Rs 10 lakh in cash, have told police that it was meant for Uttar Pradesh’s primary education minister Ram Achal Rajbhar.

Several application forms with recommendation letters from Rajbhar’s public relations officer were also found.

“The cash was given to us by the basic shiksha adhikari of Basti, Ramesh Singh, as part of collection from candidates during recruitment of teachers under the Shiksha Mitra Yojana,” one of them said.

The minister has denied the charge, describing it as part of “the Opposition’s conspiracy to malign the Mayavati government”. However, he could not explain the recovery of the application forms.

Satyendra Kumar, one of those arrested, has told the police that he is a relative of the minister and had earlier been sent to various places for similar collections.

Harishchandra, who identified himself as a peon in the primary education department in Gorakhpur, claimed that he had accompanied Satyendra on orders from the minister.

Though the police remained tightlipped about the Rajbhar’s involvement, Lucknow’s senior superintendent of police Vinay Kumar confirmed the recovery of cash and letters from the duo.

“We are investigating the matter with the help of the income-tax department to establish the source of the money,” the police official said.

The Opposition has demanded that Rajbhar be sacked.

Uttar Pradesh Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh leader Panchanan Rai had earlier claimed that recruitment of teachers under the yojana had become “an industry”.

He had raised the issue at the last session of the legislative council and had alleged that “appointment letters under the scheme were being sold at the rate of Rs 1 lakh for one post”.

Though Bahujan Samaj Party leaders dismissed yesterday’s case as an Opposition gimmick, the scandal could prove a political embarrassment for Mayavati, especially at a time when the Rashtriya Lok Dal’s withdrawal of support has left her with a thin majority.

The state’s primary education department in general and Singh in particular have invited criticism from the BJP, the government’s other half. Singh’s role “had come under shadow when the district magistrate raided his Basti office six months ago. But instead of taking action against the corrupt officer, Mayavati shunted out the district magistrate,” a state BJP worker said.

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