In first expansion, 12 ministers administered oath

A day after he shunted out the Gonda district police chief for exposing a Minister of State’s (K.C. Pandey’s) alleged nexus with a cattle mafia of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav reinstated into his ministry Vinod Kumar alias Pandit Singh, who was accused of beating up and abducting the Chief Medical Officer of Gonda. Mr. Pandit Singh had been sacked as Minister of State on October 12, 2012.

The Gonda MLA is among the 12 Ministers — one of Cabinet rank, one Minister of State with independent charge and 10 Ministers of State — who were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor B.L. Joshi at Raj Bhavan here on Thursday. The occasion also marked the first expansion of the Akhilesh Yadav Ministry since the Samajwadi Party government assumed office on March 15, 2012. Three Brahmins, two Thakurs, one Vaishya and six OBCs have made it to the Ministry.

Eyebrows have been raised over the reinduction of Mr. Pandit Singh — who touched the feet of SP supremo Mulayam Singh at the ceremony — as the report of the probe conducted by the then Commissioner of the Devi Patan division, Sanjeev Mittal (now Principal Secretary, Energy), into the abduction episode has not yet been made public.

Talking to reporters later, the Chief Minister said report had been received but was yet to be perused. He said action would be taken against those who were found guilty.

Mr. Pandit Singh landed himself in trouble when his alleged pressure tactics against the then Gonda CMO, S.P. Singh — in a bid to get some of his men included in the list for recruitment under a National Rural Health Mission programme — turned ugly. When the CMO refused to oblige him, Mr. Pandit Singh and his cohorts allegedly stormed the doctor’s residence, beat him up and abducted him. The CMO, however, managed to escape to Lucknow and proceeded on long leave of absence. It was only after Mr. Pandit Singh was dismissed, did he rejoin duty.

As for Mr. K.C. Pandey, the Chief Minister said: “Jitna dosh kaha jaa raha hai utna dosh hai nahin [the allegations against him are exaggerated].” Several requests (sifarish) were made by people and it was the responsibility of officers to differentiate between the right and wrong requests, said Mr. Yadav. Among the new ministers, the State unit SP spokesperson and MLC Rajendra Chaudhary, has been given a Cabinet berth, seen as a reward for his unstinted loyalty to Mr. Mulayam Singh. The former minister and alleged party hopper, Naresh Agarwal, who is now a Rajya Sabha MP, secured a ministerial berth for his son, Nitin Agarwal, MLA from Hardoi.

The others inducted are Vijay Kumar Mishra — Minister of State (independent charge); Ram Murti Singh Verma, Vijay Bahadur Pal, Ashok Kumar Shakya, Rama Sakal Gujjar, Manoj Kumar Pandey, Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, Pawan Pandey and Yogesh Pratap Singh — all Ministers of State.

More In: States | News | National