Lucknow: A video purportedly showing a senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader claiming he got IAS official Durga Shakti Nagpal suspended in "just 41 minutes" put the Uttar Pradesh government in a tight spot Friday.
The video comes after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav firmed up his stance in the matter of the official's suspension, and said there was no question of revoking the order served to the woman official.
The video shows Narendra Bhati, Agro chairman who enjoys minister status in the state, telling supporters in the Greater Noida region that he rang up Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav at around 10:30 a.m.; by 11:11 a.m., suspension orders were served to Nagpal.
This, the leader, also SP candidate from Noida for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, said showed the "power of democracy".
Bhati has been in the eye of a storm ever since Nagpal was suspended last week, as it is alleged that he was behind serving her the orders, under pressure from the sand mining mafia against whom she had earlier clamped down.
BJP legislator from Noida Mahesh Sharma has also alleged that Bhati was hand-in-glove with the mining mafia and has asked for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into his alleged links with the mining mafia.
As soon as the video surfaced, opposition parties pounced on the UP government.
The BJP state spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak told IANS that the "blatant lies of the chief minister had been exposed".
"Till yesterday, the chief minister was saying that the suspension of the lady IAS officer was an administrative decision. Now it is clear that it was a brazen act of political vendetta against an upright official" Pathak said.
A senior IAS official, on condition of anonymity, conceded that the situation was fast turning into a major embarrassment for the state government and there was a need to wriggle out of it. The state government's stand that Nagpal was suspended over her decision to raze an illegal boundary wall of a mosque has also come under a cloud, after the district magistrate sent a report to the government denying this.
The report says that the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) did not make any such order and that the villagers, on being told that this was illegal construction, brought down the wall themselves.
The IAS officials in the state are angry with the government for punishing an honest official. Some officials of the IAS association had Thursday petitioned the union government to intervene and revoke the suspension of the officer.