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Since 1st March, 1999
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Another ‘skeleton’ tumbles out in heartland

Dehra Dun, June 18 (Agencies): The Uttaranchal revenue minister today resigned soon after allegations of his links with an unwed mother rocked the Assembly.

Harak Singh Rawat is the second heartland minister who has had to go following allegations of improper behaviour.

Last month, an Uttar Pradesh minister was sacked after allegations surfaced that he had a relationship with a poet who was found six month’s pregnant when she was shot dead at her house. Amarmani Tripathi did not resign, but was sacked by chief minister Mayavati when it came to light that he may have had a hand in Madhumita Shukla’s May 9 murder.

Announcing his resignation today, a tearful Rawat said: “I am resigning. I will not enter the Vidhan Sabha till I clear my name.”

He accused the BJP-led Opposition as well as some members of the ruling Congress of “conspiring” against him.

When the House assembled this morning, the BJP and BSP MLAs raised a din over a Cabinet minister’s affair with an unmarried Assamese woman who gave birth to a child on Sunday. The Opposition members did not name the minister.

“This is another Madhumita Shukla like episode and the government is trying to cover up the involvement of a Cabinet minister,” leader of the Opposition, Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, said. The BJP leader wanted question hour to be suspended to discuss the matter but Speaker Yashpal Arya rejected the demand.

As slogan-shouting continued with the Opposition in an unrelenting mood, Arya adjourned the House four times. As chants of “Nari ka apmaan nahin chalega” continued to ring out, the Speaker convened an all-party meeting in his chamber to discuss the issue.

Arya then sent a five-member fact-finding House committee to talk to the woman, Jaini, who gave birth to a boy at a government hospital here.

The House committee submitted a report to Arya saying Jaini had named Rawat as the father of her child.

When the House re-assembled, the Speaker said he had sent the report to the government for taking action.

But seeking time from Arya, Rawat said since Jaini had accused him of fathering her child, he was announcing his resignation.

The revenue minister said he had sent his resignation to Governor Sudershan Agarwal and a copy had been forwarded to chief minister .D. Tiwari.

Pleading his innocence, Rawat said : “My wife helped this woman (Jaini) a lot. I came to know on June 15 that this woman had delivered a baby boy in the Doon hospital.”

He added: “These allegations are not just against me but an indicator of the level to which politics has sunk. I do not have any hesitation in saying a big political conspiracy has been hatched against me by Opposition members as well as some friends in the ruling party.”

Rawat demanded a CBI probe into the matter.

The minister created a flutter by accusing chief secretary Madhukar Gupta and his wife of conspiring against him.

“The chief secretary’s wife, who is running an NGO called Sanjiwan, knew that the girl was pregnant. Hence they are all involved. This has also happened because I once gave a dressing-down to the chief secretary,” he said.

“All these allegations have really pained me. Wounds can be healed but the blot on my character will only go with my death. Or may be my death also can never wash this blot,” Rawat said as tears streamed down his cheeks.

Later, talking to the media, he called for medical tests to ascertain the truth.

Demanding the resignation of the government over the issue, Koshiyari said since the matter was very serious, it was the leader of the House’s duty to make a statement. But Tiwari was absent from the Assembly the whole day. The Speaker later adjourned the House for the day.

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