Levelling serious charges of discrimination and corruption, a Dalit Minister in the Yogi Adityanath government resigned on Tuesday.
In a letter addressed to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Dinesh Khatik alleged that he was being discriminated against by officials of his Ministry because of his caste. “My letters are not answered and I have not been given any powers because I am a Dalit Minister,” he charged.
Mr. Khatik did not attend Mr. Adityanath’s meeting with the Uttar Pradesh Council of Ministers on Tuesday, and was seen moving in his private vehicle.
A two-time MLA from the Hastinapur (reserved) constituency in Meerut district, Mr. Khatik said that when he inquired about the issue of corruption in the Namami Gange Project and irregularities in the transfer of officials in his department, he was not provided with any information. He has named the Principal Secretary (Irrigation) for hanging up on his call. He said his charges could be investigated by any government agency.
Mr. Khatik further said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Shah had worked to ensure respect for Backward and Dalit communities and in turn, these communities had stood by the BJP. “However, officials in the government are insulting the Backward Classes and Dalits,” he said.
President of the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh unit and prominent Other Backward Class (OBC) leader Swatantra Dev Singh heads the Jal Shakti Ministry in the Cabinet.
Mr. Khatik’s resignation has come at a time when there have been reports that Cabinet Minister Jitin Prasada was anguished by action against senior officials in the Public Works Department (PWD) Department for alleged corruption and irregularities in transfer postings and had sought a meeting with Mr. Shah in Delhi.
Mr. Prasada’s Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Arun Kumar Pandey has been removed from his post and five other officials were suspended on Tuesday on the orders of the Chief Minister. Similar action is expected in the Health Department as well after a committee constituted by the CM submitted an adverse report on charges of irregularities in the transfers of doctors.
Meanwhile, addressing the Council of Ministers on Tuesday, Mr. Adityanath said that Ministers should keep an eye on the functioning of officials. He went on to say that not even a single incidence of corruption and irregularity would be excused.
The rare discord in the BJP has provided the opposition with political fodder. Praising Mr. Khatik’s step, Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav tweeted, “Where you are not respected as a minister but insulted because of being a Dalit, it was the right step to resign from such discriminating BJP government and save the honour of the community.” He described the development as the “U-turn of the bulldozer”.