Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Almost a week after the Uttar Pradesh government suspended IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday expressed concern over the matter.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Congress president wrote that Nagpal should not be penalised for standing up against "vested interests", evoking a sharp retort from Mulayam Singh Yadav`s ruling Samajwadi Party.
Gandhi said there is widespread concern that the suspended officer in the course of her public duties was seen to be standing up against vested interests engaging in illegal activity.
It is reported that Nagpal has been hastily suspended for unsubstantiated reasons, she said.
"We must ensure that the officer is not unfairly treated," she told the Prime Minister. Nagpal had shot into limelight by acting against the sand mafia in the state.
"Implementation machinery must see that the conditions are conducive to delivery of public services without fear or favour," she added.
In the letter written by her as chairperson of National Advisory Council (NAC), Gandhi asked Singh to focus on such issues as highlighted by the present case and if there was need for bringing in more measures to protect government servants.
She also asked the PM if he could intervene in the case and see how can Durga, Gautam Buddha Nagar sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), be helped.
Reacting to Sonia Gandhi`s letter to the PM, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Naresh Agarwal said that the Congress president should write two more letters to the Prime Minister about her son-in-law Robert Vadra`s land deals in Haryana and Rajasthan.
"Gandhi should write two more letters, one about the Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka who was suspended by the Chief Minister and another to the Rajasthan CM for suspending two IAS officers. In both the cases, the name of Robert Vadra cropped up. These cases were related to land deals. So, she should write two more letters to PM so that justice is done in all these cases," he said.
Khemka had hit the spotlight alleging irregularities in Vadra`s land deals in Haryana, a charge denied by the state government. The IAS officer of the 1991 batch has been transferred 44 times in his 22-year career.
Congress spokesperson Sandip Dikshit dismissed Agarwal`s criticism and hailed Gandhi`s "very powerful" letter, saying "it echoes the sentiments of India" and has been written "very sensitively".
He also also rejected the SP leader`s attempt to draw parallels between Nagpal and Khemka, saying the two cases are different.
"He (Khemka) was actually transferred before all the cases of so-called reports (regarding Vadra`s land deals) came up. He was not somebody castigated and punished."
"These are completely different issues. Even at that time when reports had come that Khemka was being punished, the Haryana government had come out and said that the gentleman was given a chance to present his case. There was no attempt to hide the truth in the Haryana case," claimed Dikshit.
The BJP dubbed Gandhi`s letter as just wasting time, saying both the Congress and the SP are hand-in-glove.
"SP is ruling in UP and the party supports UPA at the Centre. By writing a letter to PM, Gandhi is just completing a formality because she is ruling the country with the support of SP. And, she also needs SP`s support on the Food Security Bill issue."
"SP and the Congress are hand-in-glove. They are wasting time by writing letters. If they want to solve the issue, they can use their influence to sort it out," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has defended the suspension of Nagpal even as her colleagues demanded that the central government intervene.
Speaking in Lucknow after a Cabinet meeting, the Chief Minister had said that the suspended officer`s action against a mosque could have led to communal trouble.
He had rubbished charges that Nagpal was suspended under the pressure of the sand mining mafia, against whom she had acted in Noida district adjoining the national capital.
Members of the All India IAS (Indian Administrative Service) Association, meanwhile, met Minister of State in the Prime Minister`s Office V Narayanasamy in New Delhi and asked the central government to revoke the suspension.
Nagpal was suspended on July 28. The Uttar Pradesh government said she was suspended for ordering a wall of a mosque in Noida to be demolished.
A report of the Noida district magistrate has said Nagpal had not ordered the demolition but the Chief Minister was not moved.
Nagpal, whose cadre was changed to Uttar Pradesh from Punjab in August last year, is attached to the Board of Revenue in Lucknow.
(With Agency inputs)