Raja Bhaiyya back as minister in Akhilesh Yadav cabinet

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The Raja’s kingdom Raja Bhaiya in his Pratapgarh constituency Photo: Pramod Adhikari
The Raja’s kingdom Raja Bhaiyya in his Pratapgarh constituency
Photo: Pramod Adhikari

After a little over seven months, the controversial independent MLA from Kunda and Rajput leader, Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya was re-inducted in the Akhilesh Yadav cabinet on 11 October 2013. He was administered the oath of office in Raj Bhawan by the state governor BL Joshi in a simple ceremony. The Governor who was on holiday in Jaipur,  rushed to the state capital in an aircraft arranged by the state government.

Akhilesh Yadav was reluctant to induct the controversial MLA Raja Bhaiyya when he took over as CM, after the March 2012 assembly elections. However, the will of his father and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav prevailed and he was included in the cabinet.

Raja Bhaiyya had earlier served as minister in three BJP regimes led by Kalyan Singh, Ram Prakash Gupta, Rajnath Singh and Mulayam Singh Yadav’s government (August 2003 –May 2007). Former BJP CM Kalyan Singh, while campaigning in Kunda during the 1996 assembly elections had described Raja Bhaiyya as “Kunda Ka Gunda”.

Raja Bhaiyya, former minister for jails, food and civil supplies, had resigned from the cabinet on 1 March 2013, following allegations of his involvement in the murder Zia Ul Haq, Deputy Superintendent of police, Kunda in Pratapgarh district. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, conceding to the demands of the wife of the slain DSP, Parveen, and the opposition parties, had recommended to the Center a CBI probe into the incident. The CBI had however, given him a clean chit and exonerated him of all charges on 4 August.

Though the re-induction of Raja Bhaiyya in the cabinet was on the cards ever since he was cleared by the CBI, the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar and the adjoining districts in September, and the subsequent polarisation of the influential Rajput community in West Uttar Pradesh behind the BJP, hastened his return to the cabinet.

Earlier this month, following directions of SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, the parliamentary affairs minister Azam Khan, who was said to be behind Raja Bhaiyya’s ouster from the cabinet last March, had visited him and requested that he visit Meerut and Muzaffarnagr to pacify the Rajput community.

Both Azam Khan and Raja Bhaiyya were at loggerheads ever since riots broke out in Asthaan village of Pratapgarh district in May 2012, where over four dozen Muslim houses belonging to the weaver community were torched. This incident was after the alleged gang rape of Dalit girls by youth from the minority community. Both ministers had clashed before the chief minister in May last year as Azam Khan had accused Raja Bhaiyya of engineering the riots. Later in March this year, when CM Akhilesh Yadav, along with Azam Khan visited the Balipur village in Kunda – where the DSP and village Sarpanch Nanhe Yadav was killed – Raja Bhaiyya supporters had raised angry slogans against Azam Khan.

After the worst ever communal violence in West UP districts, the ruling Samajwadi party is at its wits end to keep its flock of supporters together. The Rajput community in Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Bagpat and Saharanpur, is up in arms against the ruling party ever since the riots and the subsequent arrest of the two Rajput community BJP MLAs Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana, for their alleged involvement in Muzaffarnagr riots. Later the state government had also slapped the National Security Act on both the MLAs.

The Maha Panchayat in Kheda village of Meerut district, called by the Rajput community on September 30, had turned violent and the police had to open fire. Several farmers and over a dozen police men were injured and an equal number of state police, RAF and CRPF were torched by the irate crowd.

The Rajput community has again given a call for another `Kshitriya Swaabhimaan’ rally (Rajput honour rally) at Hapur on 12 October and another Maha Panchayat at Pilkhua in Hapur district on 18 October. Both events pose a big challenge for the administration in terms of maintainance of law and order – a similar Maha Panchayat by Jats and other communities in Muzaffarnagar on 7 September, had triggered the worst ever communal riots in the district.

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