Lucknow: The Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) scam in Uttar Pradesh seems to be becoming the Achilles' heel for the Yogi Adityanath government.
A fresh set of documents revealed that the decision to bring in controversial private firm Dewan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL), which is involved in the Rs 2,600 crore EPF scam, was taken after the Yogi government came into existence on March 19, 2017.
Earlier, Power Minister Shrikant Sharma had claimed that the decision to bring in DHFL to hold EPF funds was taken by the previous Akhgilesh Yadav-led government.
Referring to the FIR and minutes of the meeting of the UP State Power Sector Employees Trust, the leaders of UP Power Employees Joint Committee said that the decision to invest the hard-earned money of the employees in a shady company was taken on March 24, 2017, five days after Yogi Adityanath took oath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
Prominent power union leader Shailendra Dubey told IANS over phone that though he welcomeed the state government's decision to initiate a CBI inquiry into the EPF scam, the Chief Minister should first remove higher officials of the Energy Ministry to ensure that files and documents relating to the DHFL issue remain intact.
"It is now clear that the decision was taken on March 24, 2017, during the Yogi government's rule. We have seen the minutes of the meeting, where the present government authorised two trust officials to invest EPF money. As huge funds were transferred to DHFL between 2017 and 2018, the present set of officials should not remain in the Power Ministry," said Dubey, Chairman, All India Power Engineers Federation.
In fact, UP government's alleged dealing with DHFL has caused a stir in Lucknow. The FIR registered with the Lucknow Police revealed that state-owned UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) invested its employees' funds worth over Rs 2,600 crore with DHFL, whose promoters were recently grilled by the Enforcement Directorate for their links with a front company of the late Iqbal Mirchi, a former aide of Dawood Ibrahim.
The decision to invest EPF money in a shady private company has been vociferously raised by the engineers and the employees' unions. In a letter to the UPPCL Chairman, several employees' unions have questioned the decision to invest money related to General Provident Fund (GPF) and Contributory Provident Fund (CPF) of employees with DHFL.
Facing opposition's attack, particularly from Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, over the investment of the part of EPF in DHFL, the Uttar Pradesh government tried to set the record straight, asserting that the "dubious" decision was taken by the Akhilesh Yadav-led government in April 2014, and the process of investment was further carried forward during 2016.
The Yogi government, taking a swift decision, registered an FIR and arrested two senior officials, Praveen Kumar Gupta, the then Secretary of the UP State Power Employees Trust and UPPCL's Provident Fund Trust, and UPPCL's erstwhile Director (Finance) Sudhanshu Dwivedi.
On Sunday, Energy Minister Shrikant Sharma revealed to the media that the decision to bring in private players was taken during the Akhilesh government. He said the decision to invest in DHFL from March 2017 was taken by Gupta and Dwivedi without bringing the matter to the knowledge of the UPPCL Managing Director.