BJP inducts land mafia MLC: Is this the reality of Yogi’s clean-up?
On July 31, the last day of Amit Shah’s three-day visit to Lucknow, two Samajwadi Party MLCs and one from the Bahujan Samaj Party joined the Bharatiya Janata Party lending credence to the fear that the ruling party at the Centre was using every means to finish the opposition.
The resignations coincided with the BJP national president’s arrival in the Uttar Pradesh capital and with the resignations by Congress legislators in Gujarat.
Causing defections was not the only political issue that dominated the mind space of political observers. It was the induction of SP MLC Bukkal Nawab, a known land mafia of the city, which left everyone, including some BJP leaders, flummoxed. His joining also exposed the hollowness of BJP’s justification for plotting against the grand alliance in Bihar.
The day Nawab, founder president of Rashtriya Shia Samaj, joined the BJP the district administration issued a recovery notice demanding Rs 6.94 crore for fraudulently claiming a compensation of Rs 10.58 crore for 3.113 hectare land in Jiamau. Nawab had said that the land belonged to him.
Following a complaint an inquiry was ordered by the revenue department and it was found that the land in question, which fell under former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s Gomati river front project, did not belong to Nawab. The recovery notice was accordingly issued by the district administration.
Nawab got away with his alleged misdeed because the SP government chose to look the other away. After the Yogi Adityanath government launched a drive against land mafia and illegal constructions, the administration stirred into action. Even then, it was after Allahabad High Court’s order that a case under Section 420 was registered against Nawab.
In June, Lucknow Development Authority’s secretary said, “We have identified illegal commercial structures that have come up on residential plots and all of them will be demolished”. Topping the list was Bukkal Nawab’s multi-storey housing complex in the Hussainabad Heritage Zone in the Old City.
The project was approved only as a single-storey structure. The SP government had allowed Nawab to get away with it but after the change in government the LDA issued a demolition notice against which an appeal is pending with the divisional commissioner of Lucknow.
The BJP top brass obviously had no reservations about Bukkal Nawab’s background. Nor did it matter to them that politically he has no appeal among the voters.
Nawab joined the SP in 1992. Twice he contested the assembly election but lost. Due to Mulayam’s patronage he was first sent to Vidhan Parishad in 2012 and then again in 2016.
A senior functionary of the BJP said he found Bukkal Nawab’s induction inexplicable after all the noises made against land mafia and land grabbers. “What can I say?” he said.
Party spokesman Harish Srivastava defended the decision to take Nawab in the BJP fold. “Charges have not yet been proved,” he said. When countered that this used to be Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav’s stock reply against all kinds of offenders, Srivastava said that the decision was taken jointly by senior leaders.
The reason for BJP’s interest in Nawab and Yashwant Singh was to make it easy for Chief Minister Adityanath and his deputies Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma to get elected to the House as the party did not want to risk losing a by-election. Yashwant Singh has already requested the CM to contest from his seat.
Adityanath and Maurya were expected contest from Assembly seats in Gorakhpur and Phulpur respectively. The Opposition had planned to make victory difficult for both. Also it is being speculated that BSP supremo Mayawati would contest as a joint Opposition candidate from Phulpur. A combined Opposition would make it difficult for the BJP leaders to win their respective seats as ensure victory in the seats vacated by them.
As Sharma hasn’t fought an election except that of mayor, taking the legislative council route would be the safest bet for him.