A few days after the arrest of Amanmani Tripathi for his role in the death of his wife, another Samajwadi Party leader has been accused of getting his political rival, a hardcore criminal, bumped off in Shamli on Sunday.
What would have come as an embarrassment to an image-conscious government Akhilesh Yadav government, Mehboob Ali, minister of textiles and sericulture, has now been accused of plotting the murder of a criminal Shaukat Pasha who had contested against him in the last elections.
Shaukat's brother has filed a police complaint naming Mehboob Ali, his brother and three others.
This is not the first time that Mehboob Ali has been accused of a role in murder. In his affidavit filed before the Election Commission in 2012, Ali had admitted to twelve criminal cases in which cognizance was taken. These included five cases of serious offences--- attempt to murder, dacoity, robbery, kidnapping or abducting in order to murder and criminal intimidation.
Only time would tell if he has a hand in Pasha's murder, but for the Samajwadi Party there's nothing new in its legislators or ministers facing criminal charges.
Charges against Amanmani Tripathi
Amanmani Tripathi is the son of four-time MLA Amarmani Tripathi who, along with his wife Madhumani, is in jail for the murder of a young poetess Madhumita Shukla. He is the Samajwadi Party's candidate from Nautanwa assembly constituency in Maharajganj. He was arrested by the CBI on 26 November in connection with the death of his wife Sara.
Tripathi's is a unique family in UP politics as it is the first time that all the family members are in jail in two different cases of murder. While Amarmani and his wife are serving life term, Amanmani's trial is yet to begin.
Mulayam and Shivpal, who have a strong preference for criminals, had tried to shield Amarmani and persisted with him in the ministry despite the grave charge of murder. Shivpal was instrumental in the decision to field Amanmani from Nautanwa although he is an accused in a kidnapping case too.
Criminalisation afflicts every party
According to the Association for Democratic Reform, nearly half of SP legislators---111 out of 224---had a criminal background. Of the 48 ministers whose affidavits were analysed by the ADR in 2012, 26 were self-declared criminals.
Besides Mehboob Ali, they included Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya from Kunda in Pratapgarh, Vinod Kumar Singh alias Pandit Singh, Arvind Kumar Singh, Manoj Kumar Paras, Ram Karan Arya to name a few. The other notable legislators with criminal background included Gyanpur MLA Vijay Mishra, Bikapur MLA Mitrasen and Ram Veer Singh of Jasrana.
While these criminals lend force the charge that SP is a party of goons, other political parties are not far behind in giving patronage to criminals. In fact in percentage terms the Bharatiya Janata Party had more legislators with criminal background than the SP - 25 out of 47, which is 53%.
In the case of Bahujan Samaj Party, 29 out of 89 legislators have a criminal background, while 13 out of 29 Congress legislators face criminal cases.
That leaves the voters in UP with the bleak prospect of being governed by criminals no matter which dispensation comes to power in the state in 2017. No party wants to let go of criminals even though their presence in the government fosters a criminal-police nexus and compromises governance.
IC Dwivedi, former convener of UP Election Watch and ex-director-general of police of UP, feels that the problem lies with Section 321 of the CrPC which empowers the government to withdraw criminal cases.
"The Supreme Court has said many times that public prosecutors should not function as employees of the government but as members of the court but nobody follows that order. As a result legislators get away even with murder," Dwivedi said.