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Mudda takes up bribery allegation against Uttar Pradesh bureaucrat and arrest of complainant; suspension of district magistrates days ago no excuse for inaction in this case, says speaker

Friday’s edition of Mudda discussed the bribery allegations levelled against UP CM’s principal secretary SP Goel and the arrest of the complainant.

The show was anchored by Akshay Singh. The panellists were BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi, Congress spokesperson Dr Hilal Naqvi, ex-IAS officer SK Verma, senior journalist Atul Chandra and APN Consulting Editor Govind Pant Raju.

Abhishek Gupta, the 23-year-old man who levelled allegations against Goel for demanding a bribe of Rs 25 lakh, was detained by the police ahead of his presser at Lucknow’s Press Club. Gupta alleged that Goel had been demanding bribe in lieu of land for setting up a petrol pump in Hardoi. Police took him into custody for “defaming the state government and levelling false allegations against Principal Secretary Goel”.

The controversy began after a letter written by UP Governor Ram Naik about Gupta’s complaint against Goel surfaced on social media. Naik, in his letter dated April 30, 2018, had written, “Mr Gupta says that the principal secretary to chief minister, SP Goel, is demanding Rs 25 lakh to provide land for broadening of the main road and he is not able to set up the petrol pump due to delay in the decision on the representation. I am sending Mr Abhishek Gupta’s letter to you for appropriate action”. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered a probe into the allegations levelled against Goel, asking for the “factual position”.

Clarifying his party’s stand, BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said that the letter from the governor is not a confirmation of the allegations levelled at Goel, instead it is part of the general procedure undertaken by the governor. “Whenever a complaint is given, the governor forwards it to the authorities concerned, which doesn’t mean it is a confirmation of the allegations levelled,” Tripathi said.

As a counterpoint, he further said that it is for the first time that two district magistrates have been suspended by any CM. A day ago, JB Singh, district magistrate of Gonda, was suspended for irregularities in food distribution and illegal mining while Fatehpur District Magistrate Kumar Prashant was put on suspension for illegal mining and transferring a government land to a private person. At this, senior journalist Atul Chandra corrected him, saying that “in 2003, Mayawati had suspended the district magistrate of Ghaziabad, and later the DM of Kannauj. Akhilesh Yadav also suspended three district magistrates, so you are not creating history by doing so”.

Raju told the BJP that however hard the party may try to undo it, the damage has now been done. “The message has been sent to the public. The damage has been done to the image of the party, the chief minister and the chief minister’s office,” he said. Raju said that the BJP had entered the political arena of Uttar Pradesh with a very different set of agenda, that of doing clean politics; yet it sat on the complaint made by Abhishek Gupta for two months. “Now whatever measures the party may take are of no use,” he said.

—Compiled by Lilly Paul

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