Lucknow, Nov. 8: It’s a tale of crime and punishment in the Maya-jaal of Uttar Pradesh politics. That is what rebel Bahujan Samaj Party legislator Jai Prakash Yadav has learnt after he decided to go against his one-time mentor.
A year ago, when Mayavati had picked up the Delhi-based industrialist and property broker as party candidate for the February 2002 Assembly elections from Dhuriapar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, it was because of his muscle and money power and his criminal record. She was looking for someone to take on former minister and BSP deserter Markandey Chand, also a man with money and muscle power.
Yadav emerged a hero while Chand scurried for cover, fearing the worse in the Mayavati regime.
Now, after his rebellion, Yadav today finds that the chief minister is using his one-time asset as a tool to torment him. Two new criminal cases have been registered against him and police have been raiding his hideout night and day. And while Yadav dodges the police, Chand is smugly enjoying his freedom despite a Lokayukta indictment against him for land-grab and forgery in Gorakhpur.
The chief minister, who found a similar indictment handy enough to register a criminal case against rebel Independent MLA Raja Ram Pandey, has shut her eyes in Chand’s case.
The way the government has reacted to the rebellion by other Independents and dissident BJP legislators shows the same pick-and-choose policy. As sociologist K.K. Sharma points out: “It’s typical of a state where criminalisation of politics is near total and the police stand heavily politicised.”
The latest case against rebel Independents Raghuraj Pratap Singh — also known as Raja Bhaiyya — and Dhananjay Singh on charges of kidnapping and intimidation by BJP MLA Pooran Singh Bundela illustrates this.
Acting with unusual fury, the administration slapped the Gangster Act on them and threw them in Fatehgarh jail about 200 days ago. And though a Lucknow court today ordered that they be lodged in Lucknow only, they have been sent to judicial custody for 60 days.
Ironically, their accuser, Bundela, has gained a reprieve. A criminal case had been registered against him on the complaint of a forest officer in Lalitpur district when Bundela joined the 12 BJP rebels to meet Governor Vishnu Kant Shastri last week. Forest department recoveries worth crores of rupees were pending against him, Mayavati had pointed out in defence of the police action.
But after Bundela agreed to betray the rebels and lodge FIRS against Raja Bhaiyya and Dhananjay, all his past crimes have been forgotten. “While Mayavati claims that police action against the rebels is as per due process of law, she is going soft on other criminals who have recently switched over to her side,” concedes a senior police official.
For instance, Akhilesh Singh, the expelled Congress MLA from Rae Bareli, had been detained under the National Security Act in connection with the murder of a Congress leader. After dissension started rocking Mayavati’s boat, he switched over to her side and the NSA order was revoked.
An NSA order against Independent MLA Mukhtar Ansari was also revoked when he issued a statement from jail supporting Mayavati. Ansari, a dreaded Mafia don of eastern Uttar Pradesh who was expelled from the BSP before the last elections, was on the top of Mayavati’s “hit-list” when she assumed power. Now he has joined the growing band of her “reformed” followers.
The government’s decision to revoke the Gangster Act against BJP leader Vijay Singh and his wife, accused in the murder of senior BJP leader and former minister Brahm Datt Dwivedi, is also politically motivated, observers feel. “She sees Vijay Singh as an answer to BJP MLC Ajit Singh, a branded dissident,” they say.