New Delhi/May 9
Cobrapost on Friday accused Uttar Pradesh government of committing a multi-crore recruitment scam in the Rural Development Department in the recruitment of 3000 Rural Development Officers (VDOs) in July last year in the state.
In a statement issued here, Cobrapost said that the Rural Development Department threw open about 3,000 posts of Rural Development Officers (VDOs) in July last year and the offer closed in January this year. Cobrapost came to know, through some well-placed sources, that the recruitment is being done for hefty bribes. Only those candidates will be selected to these vacancies whose names will be included in the list that will be sent from higher-ups in Lucknow to all District Magistrates. Included in this list will be only those who are able to pay bribes, although for all the world to see all those candidates will be called for interview who will have cleared the written test. Cobrapost decided to investigate and found it all to be true.
Cobrapost Correspondent Mohammend Hizbullah met 12 persons who spilled the beans of this brewing bribery scam. Commanding influence both in government administration and in Samajwadi Party, these are Haji Mohammed Abbas, serving as an advisor to the Labour and Employment Department with the rank of State Minister; Shriprakash Rai, State Minister and Chairman of UP Agricultural Research Council; Haji Ikram Qureshi, State Minister and Chairman of UP Essential Commodities Corporation; SP MLA and former minister Shakir Ali, former State Minister Anand Sen Yadav; SP MLA Chandra Rawat; SP MLA Sharda Pratap Shukla; Ram Prakash Yadav, member SP State Executive; Satish Yadav, Secretary SP Youth Wing, Uraman Singh Yadav, SP District Secretary of Sambhal; Amit Agarwal alias Amit Jaani, President UP Navniramarn Sena; and Ayaz Ahmed, former Councilor of Lucknow. The revelations on camera these serving ministers, sitting MLAs and well-placed party functionaries made can be summed as under:
• All these leaders exposed claimed that a hefty bribe ranging from Rs. 8 lakh to Rs. 13 lakh is being skimmed from each candidate.
• These leaders claimed, and sought, half of the bribe price as token money.
• The list of the selected candidates thus selected will be sent to the district magistrates from Lucknow.
• Some of these leaders also claimed that besides the Rural Development Department recruitment in Panchayati Raj Department is also being made in a similar manner.
• It was also claimed that recruitment in the Police Department for 5,000 vacancies, declared open only recently, have also started in the same way.
Many of these leaders claimed they have good connection both with the ministers and with the top leadership of Samajwadi Party. When Hizbullah sought to get some of his men recruited as VDOs, almost all these leaders assured him they would help his candidates if they were willing to pay their way to the job. The money they demanded for this favour was anything between Rs. 8 lakh and Rs. 13 lakh.
There was only one exception to this ongoing corruption scandal. SP MLA Shakir Ali, twice minister in Uttar Pradesh, refused to help for money. The maximum he could do, he assured, he would write a letter to the minister concerned recommending the case of the candidates Cobrapost reporter had sought to be recruited as VDOs. Ali does not mince words while castigating the government of his party for the corruption that has become rampant in Uttar Pradesh. He says: “Netritva jisko chahega aur zyadatar paschim ke log ka hona hai … ye pehli baar dekh rahe hain ki 30 number ka merit aur 50 number ka interview (Whosoever the party leadership wants (will be selected) and people from western UP will be recruited … I am for the first time seeing it is happening when merit has been assigned only 30 marks while interview carries 50 marks).”
His colleague in the Akhilesh Yadav government, Shriprakash Rai spills more beans: “Vikas mantri kaho panchayati raj mantri le lo saat ka ratio maan kar chalo (Whether it is Rural Development Minister or Panchayati Raj Minister, take it at a ratio of Rs. 7 lakh).” If he is to be believed, recruitment in both Rural Department and Panchayati Raj Department is being done at the asking rate of Rs. 7 lakh per head.
Agreeing with him is his fellow party MLA from Mohanlalganj Chandra Rawat, who says both departments are running high on corruption. When the reporter tells her they are asking for too steep a bribe for a candidate, complementing him she says, “Ek ismein aur ek Panchayati Raj mein (Both in this department and in Panchayati Raj).”
Ram Prakash Yadav, the member of SP State Executive informs: “Kareeb do-dhai hazar ladkon ka paisa jama ho chuka hai (About 2500 boys have deposited the money).”
However, there is no guarantee even if a candidate pays this much of bribe. If Ram Prakash is to be believed 440 candidates will never be appointed as their names have been deleted from the list. The reason: the man handling the collection of money did not share the spoils in right proportion with the decision-making authority controlling the recruitment. Still Ram Prakash promises to help recruit as many candidates as we want to the Police Department which is going to recruit 5000 constables. “Police ki bharti mein sau logon ko bhi le aiyega toh bhi kara deng (Even if you bring 100 candidates I will get them all recruited),” claims Ram Prakash. This shows the clout the syndicate of which he is part has over the government.
The situation has worsened so much in the state that a strongman like Anand Sen is finding it difficult to cope: “Sarkar mein badi kharab sthiti hai bahut kharab sthiti hai kuch kehne layak nahi hai (The situation in the government is really worse. It leaves nothing to say).”
Another SP leader Cobrapost met and got all kinds of assurances is Urman Singh Yadav, who says: “Ye party munh manga paisa leti hai (This party asks for the money without any restraint).”
Nowhere during the course of Cobrapost investigation was any bribe paid to these practitioners of the art that has come to rule every walk of life in India, as there was no intention of getting anybody recruited. This expose reminds us once again of one of the largest recruitment scams that took place in the earlier Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh. Of the 22,500 constables recruited in this fashion, about 18000 had almost lost their jobs when the Mayawati government came to power but for judicial intervention. Many senior IPS officers who were involved in the scam were also suspended only to be reinstated later by the same government. A very senior politician who is cooling his heels in jail is former chief minister of Haryana Om Prakash Chautala, and son Ajay Chautala, for a similar recruitment scam in which 3,200 junior teachers were hired for money.
The way Uttar Pradesh has slipped deep into the muck of corruption, intermittently hit as it is by one bigger scam after another, irrespective of the political dispensation of the day, there is no surprise then that Transparency International has put the state in the category of four alarmingly corrupt states in India. The states that share this honour with UP are Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.
New Delhi/May 9