Monday, August 5, 2013

Samajwadi Party dares Centre to withdraw IAS officers - Times of India

NEW DELHI: Samajwadi Party on Monday chose to brazen out the growing outcry over the suspension of Durga Shakti Nagpal by challenging the Centre to withdraw all IAS and IPS officers from Uttar Pradesh while calling the controversial disciplinary action as irreversible.

"If the Centre wants to intervene, it can remove all the IAS officers from Uttar Pradesh. We will run the state with our own officers," Samajwadi leader in Rajya Sabha Ramgopal Yadav told reporters.

SP boss Mulayam Singh Yadav was equally combative as he rebuffed any possibility of relenting on the decision to suspend the young IAS officer. "It is correct. It is final," he told reporters in Parliament while referring to the suspension order.

The raising of ante in what is essentially a battle of wits brought out SP's decision to stick to the script that the Akhilesh Yadav government had to turf out Nagpal as Noida SDM because she had demolished the wall of a mosque on public land. This was in disregard of tell-tale evidence suggesting that the young IAS officer was moved out for taking on the mafia engaged in illegal sand mining.

With Nagpal fast becoming a symbol of bureaucratic resistance to the politico-mafia nexus, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh broke his silence to tell reporters that the Centre was in touch with state authorities on the issue and rules would be followed.

SP's claim that Nagpal had to be forced out because she had demolished the wall of a mosque during the month of Ramzan is at the centre of the storm, with many alleging that the charge was a smokescreen for the SP leadership which succumbed to pressure from its local functionaries allegedly in cahoots with the sand mafia.

The allegation that the SP government was raising the issue of mosque as an alibi thickened on Monday when UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav admitted that political parties could not ignore the wishes of its "workers".

The controversy has ensured that Nagpal may have to go through a prolonged drill before she is reinstated, with the all-round assault forcing SP to tenaciously stick to its version of what had happened.

Interestingly, even as a full-scale political controversy rages around it, the Samajwadi camp does not seem excessively fazed. Rather, it believes the debate has helped it gain support among its core vote base, and that the gains will far outweigh losses, if any, from the perception that the Akhilesh Yadav government had wronged an upright officer.

Making light of the brouhaha over disciplinary action, Akhilesh said at a children's function in Lucknow, "There might be many children (sitting here) who I can say would have received a beating from their teachers and parents when they had done something wrong... the government is also run like this, whenever any official does something wrong, he is punished."

The surefootedness of the Samajwadi camp contrasted with the Congress decision to side with public sentiment in favour of the officer, with Sonia Gandhi on Friday writing to the PM to ensure that no injustice was done to Nagpal.

AICC spokesman Meem Afzal said, "Congress has from day one said that demolition of mosque wall is only an excuse and the real reason for Durga's suspension is her action against sand mining."
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