New Delhi: New UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who has been feted for trying to keep away people with dubious antecedents from the Samajwadi Party as he fought a winning battle for UP, will find himself having to repeatedly explain the induction of Independent MLA from Kunda, Raghuraj Pratap Singh or Raja Bhaiyya, in his cabinet.
Raja Bhaiyya, the local strongman of Pratapgarh, has known criminal antecedents; today, after taking over as UP CM, Mr Yadav defended his minister accusing his predecessor Maywati of filing false cases against Mr Singh. The 42-year-old Raja Bhaiya has been a minister before in a Mulayam Singh Yadav government. But that government had not come to power promising to rid UP of goonda raj and law and order problems. Akhilesh Yadav’s did.
The MLA was arrested in 2002 on charges of kidnapping and was later jailed by the then Mayawati government under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), charges which were dropped the moment Mulayam Singh Yadav came to power in 2003.
In 2004, a police officer alleged that Raja Bhaiyya was targeting him for vendetta. Later that year the police officer died in a road accident. The CBI is investigating that death.
All this has not stalled Raja Bhaiyya’s political career; he has won elections from Kunda a record five times as an Independent since 1993, when he first contested. His association with the SP has always been strong. He was made minister in 2005. When the BSP was winning all over UP in 2007, it could not dent the Raja Bhaiyya fortress of Kunda. This time, the SP did not field a candidate against him and before the elections he declared that the party would sweep UP. When it did, he expectedly threw in his lot with it.
Mr Singh belongs to a well-known UP family. His grandfather Raja Bajarang Bahadur Singh was the founder vice chancellor of Pant Nagar University and was later also governor of Himachal Pradesh. His father Udai Pratap Singh was educated at Doon School.