Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has scolded the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh over an alleged Rs 2.4 crore fund embezzlement under the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) in the state. He has asked for an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The issue pertains to construction of five roads in Sultanpur district, part of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s parliamentary constituency. The PMGSY is a flagship scheme of Ramesh’s ministry.
Acting on complaints of local Congress leaders, Ramesh has sent a letter to the state government, demanding the CBI inquiry and that the state construct the roads on its own, instead of through a contractor.
This development comes at a delicate stage of the relations between the Congress-led UPA coalition at the Centre and the SP. The latter supports the former in Parliament, while being very critical of it; in turn, the UPA needs those numbers (22 MPs). Yet, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav has re-ignited talk of a ‘Third Front’, predicting a non-Congress and non-Bharatiya Janata Party combine would form the government at the Centre after the next general elections, scheduled next year.
The Congress has rubbished this idea, with Information Minister Manish Tewari describing it as an “enduring mirage”. Yadav had also sparked some controversy with praise of BJP leader L K Advani, leading to more caustic comment from the Congress.
Rahul Gandhi had recently asked party MPs from Uttar Pradesh to expose the weaknesses of the SP rule in the state and cash on this.