Facing criticism over EPF investment, Yogi govt blames previous SP regime

Yogi Adityanath

After facing criticism over the investment of provident fund money of Rs 2,631.20 crore of the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) employees in Dewan Housing Finance Ltd (DHFL) which is a tainted company, the Yogi Adityanath government accused the previous Samajwadi Party(SP) regime of ‘opening gate of corruption’ by taking the decision of investment in a private company.

Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, state power minister Srikant Sharma said “Those living in glass houses shouldn’t throw a stone at others. The decision to invest money was taken in the meeting of Uttar Pradesh State Power Sector Employees Trust (UPSPSET) held on April 21, 2014, when SP was in power. The investment in DHFL started on March 17, 2017. This decision was taken at the behest of former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav.”

“Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi levels baseless allegations without proper homework. Her politics is only restricted to Twitter. She should first speak about the corruption charges being faced by her husband Robert Vadra instead of pointing fingers at the transparent government lead by a ‘sanyasi’. We received the complaint of irregularities on July 10 this year. After inquiry, the former secretary of the trust PK Gupta was suspended,” Sharma added.

“Based on the vigilance report FIR was registered against the then director (finance) of UP Power Corporation Sudhanshu Dwivedi and secretary PK Gupta at Hazratganj police station in Lucknow on Saturday. They have been arrested and sent to jail. We have recommended a CBI probe into the matter and those guilty will be put behind bars. We stand firmly with our employees and their money will be returned,” claimed the state power minister.

The additional chief secretary of the home department Avanish Awasthi said, “Till CBI doesn’t take over the case, the director-general of economic offences wing (EOW) will investigate the matter. We are also in touch with the enforcement directorate (ED).”

DHFL, a non-banking financial corporation, came under the ED’s lens for the first time after the agency was investigating about three properties linked to Iqbal Mirchi, a close aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.

Meanwhile, speaking to India Today, the acting president of UP Power Officers Association Awadhesh Verma said, “The government has assured that the PF money of employees will be returned to them. We are happy that the CBI probe has been recommended. Out of Rs 2,631.20 crore invested in DHFL, the amount of Rs 1596.70 crore is yet to be recovered. In case the government fails to return the money, then UPPCL employees may come out on the streets to protest.”

Shailendra Dubey from All India Power Engineers Federation said, “The chairman and MD of the power department cannot run away from their responsibility. This is a serious issue that the money of employees has been invested in a controversial firm. Despite getting the vigilance report the government took so much time to take action. I hope CBI takes over the investigation soon and more culprits are put behind bars.”

Opposition escalates attack on Yogi Adityanath government

The opposition parties have escalated the attack on the Yogi Adityanath government over the investment of UPPCL employees PF money in a tainted company.

Speaking to India Today, SP spokesperson and MLC Udaiveer Singh claimed, “There is a direct link between BJP and DHFL. The company gave a donation of Rs 20 crore to the BJP in their party fund. It is not only the state government but the central government also invested money in this company. The state government’s recommendation of the CBI probe is just an eyewash. The decision of investment was taken in a board meeting of the trust which was called on March 24 in 2017 days after Yogi Adityanath government came to power.”

Congress has demanded the resignation of state power minister Srikant Sharma and top officials of the power department.

Addressing a press conference, UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu said, “This scam surfaced in July but the state government has woken up after Priyanka Gandhi Vadra raised the matter. Instead of twisting statements, the government must sack state power minister Srikant Sharma and top officials of the power corporation. FIR should also be registered against them. Our party will raise this demand on the streets if quick action is not taken.”