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Files burn, so does desire for revenge

Lucknow, May 11: Rip, rip rip. Something was being torn apart and burnt to ashes at Samajwadi minister Azam Khan’s office — and it certainly wasn’t just his hopes.

Five public works department employees, believed to be loyal to the urban development minister, were tearing pages off files, shredding them and burning some of the scraps on the floor.

With the poll trends pointing to a sweep by Mayavati, the papers needed to be urgently destroyed before Azam left office so that the new chief minister couldn’t fish among them for evidence of corruption.

With the Bahujan Samaj Party chief having already threatened to jail corrupt Samajwadi Party leaders if she formed the government, the results today were sending shivers down Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party colleagues.

“All illegal acts of the Mulayam government will be probed… not out of political vendetta but in the interest of the people,” Mayavati confirmed in the evening.

Azam’s men hadn’t waited that long. In the early afternoon, two hours before Mulayam drove to Raj Bhavan to put in his papers, Azam’s were being destroyed.

As TV crews got wind of it and caught the men in the act, they stared into the cameras with frightened expressions. “We are cleaning up the office for the new incumbent,” mumbled one.

“Why' The results aren’t out yet,” a journalist asked.

Pause. “We’ve been told to tear off the papers from the files by our higher-ups.”

Hours later, a Samajwadi Party spokesman pleaded innocence: “The government employees are not under our control, now that the chief minister has resigned.”

“I was horrified to see (it) on TV,” Mayavati told a news conference. “I will order a probe.”

She said she had asked the state police chief to take immediate action on the basis of the TV footage.

The destroyed papers are believed to relate to party leaders’ recommendations for clearance of projects, especially those in Mulayam’s hometown Saifai and Azam’s constituency Rampur.

Samajwadi Party ministers are also anxious about the IPS scam: the recruitment of 200 Yadavs as police officers and the prompt recommendation for their promotion to IPS cadre.

Mayavati said she might order a fresh probe into the allotment of six plots in Noida to party general secretary Amar Singh’s friends.

The sanction of kanya dhan funds for women who cleared plus two, and the land allotment to Anil Ambani’s project at Dadri, too, could come under the scanner.

The Mayavati camp says she would spare “nobody” who has gained from Mulayam’s largesse. Ambani Junior is believed to have been close to Amar, who is a constant fixture at the side of Amitabh Bachchan and his family.

Amar, recovering from gall stone surgery, is to travel with the Bachchans to the Cannes film festival. While he plans to extend his holiday in London, his friends in para-banking, construction and the media could be feeling the heat back home.

Mulayam himself has an assets case pending in the Supreme Court. The new regime might submit a fresh affidavit, even provide the CBI with some more evidence.

Asked what she might do to Mulayam, Mayavati said, “Marey huey aadmi ko kya marna hai (can you kill a dead man)' The people have already punished him.”

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