Lucknow: The Yogi Adityanath government is increasingly facing the heat over its handling of the Chinmayanand case, after the law student, who accused the former union minister of rape, was arrested for extortion.
This while Chinmayanand, the former union minister of state for home affairs, is in a hospital ever since his arrest.
The opposition has been quick to attack the BJP government, accusing Chief Minister Adityanath of protecting Chinmayanand, who he is considered close to. The opposition has also picked on another aspect that it believes has been shielding Chinmayanand -his caste.
The opposition has been pointing out that the Chinmayanand case is following the trajectory of the other high-profile rape case, involving expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar, that rocked the state.
In both cases, Samajwadi Party MLC Sunil Singh told ThePrint, the accused are Kshatriyas, the caste that the chief minister belongs. He added that it is the only caste that is being given special attention under the Yogi regime.
Former union minister and senior Congress leader, Jitin Prasada, also targeted the state government over “caste bias”. He said Brahmins are being constantly ignored by the Yogi government for key appointments despite the community having voted overwhelmingly for the BJP in both the assembly and Lok Sabha elections. He too alleged that only Kshatriyas were being given importance in the state.
Chinmayanand’s supposed proximity to Yogi
The opposition allegations stem from the long delay in the arrest of Chinmayanand in the law student’s rape case. The rape survivor had first posted a video on social media on 24 August in which she had made serious allegations against the former union minister.
Soon after, she went missing. The FIR was filed days later after several media reports emerged about her father’s written complaint with the police. Even then, there was no rape charge against Chinmayanand.
On 20 September, after a long-delayed SIT probe, Section 376 (C) was slapped against Chinmayanand and he was finally arrested. But right after his arrest, he got himself admitted in a hospital, while the survivor was arrested on charges of extortion.
The opposition has time and again pointed to the chief minister’s proximity to Chinmayanand. Adityanath had visited Shahjahanpur in February last year where he participated in a Mumuksh Yuva Mahotsav organised by Chinmayanand’s ashram.
The Yogi government had then tried to withdraw cases of rape and kidnapping filed against Chinmayanand in 2018 but a local court had rejected Yogi government’s plea regarding withdrawal of these cases. In November 2011, an FIR was filed against Chinmayanand by a woman residing in his ashram for several years in which she had accused him of kidnapping and raping her.
Delay in Unnao rape case
BJP government was also severely criticised and questioned for its conduct in the rape case against its MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar. In June 2017, Sengar was accused by a girl of raping her. The victim had alleged that the MLA had raped her at his residence when she had gone there with one of her relatives to get a job. At the time, the police did not file any FIR despite several complaints by the survivor.
Subsequently, the girl’s family approached a local court. Several months after Sengar’s arrest in this case, a truck collided with the survivor’s car killing two of her relatives. The survivor herself was critically injured and remained in a coma for several days.
After facing huge embarrassment, the BJP finally suspended Sengar. BJP sources say that a large lobby in the party was involved in shielding Sengar for a period of time. The opposition leaders see it as a result of the “Kshatriya connection”.
Preferential treatment in state cabinet too
There are allegations that the bias shows up in the composition of the UP cabinet. Of the 25 ministers in the Yogi cabinet, seven, including the chief minister, are Kshatriyas. They include Jai Pratap Singh, Mahendra Singh, Chetan Chauhan, Surya Pratap Shahi, Suresh Rana and Moti Singh.
Many of them have recently got additional responsibilities. Mahendra Singh, considered quite close to CM Yogi, has been given the Ministry of Jal Shakti, which is considered to be a very important ministry in UP. All departments associated with the water-related affairs will come under the purview of this department. After formation of this Ministry, the Irrigation Ministry has been abolished.
This importance being accorded to Mahendra Singh is more intriguing since he has just recently been promoted to the rank of Cabinet Minister from being a State Minister with independent charge. At the same time, Jai Pratap Singh has been made Health Minister in place of Siddharth Nath.
Efforts to strike a balance via civil servant appointments
CM Yogi Adityanath appears to be aware of the social imbalance in his government and has attempted to balance it through civil servant appointments. For instance, R.K. Tiwari, a Brahmin, has been given the responsibility of acting chief secretary after the retirement of Anoop Chand Pandey. At the same time, Avneesh Awasthi, also a Brahmin, continues as the principal secretary for information and home.
That is balanced out in the police where DGP O.P. Singh is a Kshatriya; his predecessor Sulkhan Singh was also a Kshatriya.
Furthermore, CM Adityanath has appointed recently retired IAS officers such as Raj Narayan Singh and NKS Chauhan as officers on special duty. That, however, hasn’t stopped the Yogi government from being accused of preferential treatment in appointing some castes in police stations.
An RTI filed by social activist Nutan Thakur has revealed that of the 43 SHOs deployed in Lucknow, 18 are Brahmins and 12 are Kshatriyas.
As far as preferential treatment is considered ‘caste factor’ is not the only factor — the opposition leaders in UP allege that the ‘Gorakhpur connection’ is also important in terms of getting special attention. According to sources in the government, there are a large number of people posted in the CM’s office who are either from Gorakhpur or have worked there for a long time.
BJP denies all allegations
Till now CM Yogi has not offered any comments regarding these allegations, but the BJP leaders have denied any truth behind the allegations being levelled by the opposition leaders. BJP’s state spokesperson Salabh Mani Tripathi says that BJP has not discriminated against anyone. In cases related to Chinmayanand and Senger the Government fully stands with the survivors. In both these cases orders for probe were issued at right time. According to Salabh Mani, all opposition parties in UP have been involved in castiest practices and hence their mind is full of these kind of thoughts which are very difficult to be dislodged.