Congress sees political angle in UP officials' suspension

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New Delhi, Feb 1 (UNI) Expressing "disappointment" at the suspension of four officials by the Uttar Pradesh government for their alleged role in publishing a book highlighting the Gandhi clan in the development of Sultanpur district, the Congress today said it was not purely an administrative action.

"They (officials) have not violated any rule by appreciating the role of public representatives like Ms Sonia Gandhi and Mr Rahul Gandhi," AICC spokesman Shakeel Ahmed told mediapersons, while pointing out that four of the assembly segments of the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency of Mr Rahul Gandhi fell within the Sultanpur district.

The action against the officials was not purely an administrative one, he said, indicating that it was driven by political interests.

"It is more than an administrative action." Mr Ahmed said the suspension was "unfair and unfortunate," and pointed out that the book was published in September this year and that the action was taken four months later.

The ongoing political battle between the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Congress took an ''ugly'' turn with the Mayawati government yesterday suspending four officials, including two senior IAS officers, for their role in publishing a souvenir which projected the role of Ms Gandhi and Mr Rahul Gandhi in the development of Sultanpur district.

The suspended IAS officers included Faizabad Divisional Commissioner Venkeshwara Lo and Sultanpur District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar. The two had issued signed messages for the book 'Sultanpur: Kal aur Aaj' (Sultanpur: yesterday and today).

The others suspended were Assistant Director of Information Pramod Kumar Singh and then Chief Development Officer (currently posted as Special Secretary Social Welfare) Ishtdev Prasad Rai.

An official release issued in Lucknow yesterday said the book highlights the role of a particular political party and the family leading the party. However, it did not make any direct reference about Congress president Sonia Gandhi or Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi.

''By helping in the publication of the book, the officials have been prima facie found guilty of violating the service rules,'' the release added.

UNI SH/SN PK AS1752

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