A corruption scandal has rocked the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. Following a sting operation by a news channel, secretaries of three Cabinet ministers have been arrested by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Uttar Pradesh Police on the charges of corruption and bribery. The three secretaries were caught red-handed demanding bribery inside the premises of the State Legislative Assembly in the sting operation conducted Wednesday. The corruption scandal involving secretaries of Yogi Adityanath’s handpicked cabinet ministers, which surfaced in an election season, prompted him to set up the SIT headed by Additional Director General (Lucknow zone) Rajiv Krishnan to probe the allegations.
Of the three arrested secretaries, one was employed in the offices of Mining, Excise and Prohibition Minister Archana Pandey, another was in Backward Classes Welfare Minister OP Rajbhar and the third one was the secretary of Education Minister Sandeep Singh.
In the sting, Om Prakash Kashyap - personal secretary of Rajbhar – was seen demanding a bribe of Rs 40 lakh for a transfer. The other two secretaries - Santosh Awasthi and SP Tripathi - were trying to strike illicit deals on books and mining.
Santosh Awasthi, personal secretary to the MoS Basic Education, Sandeep Singh, is seen "working out a deal" on a contract for books. The sting also shows him seeking his own commission in the deal. The minister Sandeep Singh is the grandson of former UP chief minister and Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh.
In the same sting operation, SP Tripathi - secretary of MoS (Mining) Archana Pandey - can be seen striking a deal with the undercover journalist for mining contracts in several districts. Interestingly, the Yogi government is probing the alleged mining scam took place during the erstwhile Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government.
Illegal mining and corruption in the distribution of mining contracts is a long-standing issue in Uttar Pradesh. The arrest of Mining minister’s personal secretary is a big blow to Yogi Government’s claims that it was working to flush out the corruption from the mining sector in the state.
CM Yogi, who claims to achieve complete honesty in the functioning of his government, had repeatedly said that he will adopt zero tolerance policy towards corruption. However, the sting operation shows, the corruption was indeed taking place right under his nose.