Lucknow, May 17: Chief minister Mayavati today dropped Amarmani Tripathi from her Cabinet following the storm over his alleged involvement in the murder of Hindi poet Madhumita Shukla, who was shot dead in her flat a week ago.
“Though the charges against the minister are baseless, he has been removed to prevent the Opposition from reaping political advantage from the situation,” the Uttar Pradesh chief minister told a hurriedly called press conference.
The government decided to shift the murder case from the civil police to the CID and asked it to complete investigations within a month.
Lucknow senior superintendent of police Anil Agarwal, who was heading the probe till now, has been shunted out because “the family members of the deceased have accused him of tampering with the evidence”.
This is not the first time that Tripathi, who faces 54 criminal cases in Uttar Pradesh, has been dropped from the government for alleged involvement in a crime. In December 2001, when he was a member of the Rajnath Singh ministry, he was dropped and sent to jail after his name figured in the kidnapping of a Gorakhpur businessman.
Sources said Mayavati hoped to defuse the controversy over her minister’s alleged role in the murder on the eve of the Prime Minister’s two-day visit to Lucknow from May 19, but the move left an angry Opposition crying foul.
While the BJP welcomed the decision to transfer the case, the Samajwadi Party and the Congress described it as “a sham” and insisted on a CBI probe.
Quoting intelligence sources, Samajwadi general secretary Amar Singh alleged in Delhi that the state government was trying to “frame Samajwadi leaders to save Tripathi who was very close to chief minister Mayavati”.
“Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee should entrust the investigation to the CBI as the murder was committed in his Lok Sabha constituency and a member of the literary fraternity was the victim,” he said.
Singh said the CID probe was meant to hoodwink the people and not lead to “impartial findings” as the department was “Mayavati’s pocket-borough”. He pointed out that the way she has slapped 200 cases against him and his party chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav, clearly shows her intention. “I can confidently predict that Amarmani will be reinstated in the Cabinet soon,” Singh said.
Mayavati herself lend credence to these fears when she said that the moment Tripathi is cleared by the CID, he would be re-inducted into her ministry.
“If he is found guilty, I will expel him from the BSP but everyone should be treated as innocent till proved guilty,” she said in reply to a question.
Tripathi denied his involvement in the murder but refused to comment on the decision to drop him. “I will get a clean chit,” he said.