Lucknow: Trouble seems to be mounting for Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav ahead of the 2019 general elections as the Enforcement Directorate on Friday raided several places in various states in connection with its probe into irregularities in the Gomti riverfront development project in Lucknow.
The Rs 1,500 crore revamp of the riverfront was a pet project of Yadav and was sanctioned by him as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh just before the 2017 assembly elections.
Officials said the raids were being carried out in various premises of the accused and their associates in Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow and Noida), Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan, by a team of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials assisted by local police. The teams are looking for documents and evidence, they said.
The Enforcement Directorate had filed a money laundering case in March last year, taking cognisance of the CBI probe in the matter. The CBI had taken over the investigation into the case after the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government ordered an inquiry into the beautification of the Gomti river front.
The CBI had filed an FIR against then chief engineers Gulesh Chandra, S N Sharma, Qazim Ali, then superintendent engineers Mangal Yadav, Akhil Raman, Kamaleshwar Singh, Roop Singh Yadav and executive engineer Surendra Yadav. Gulesh Chandra, Mangal Yadav, Akhil Raman and Roop Singh Yadav have retired.
The state government had constituted a committee under retired Allahabad High Court judge Alok Kumar Singh, which had indicated prima facie irregularities in the project in its report dated May 16, 2017. The Uttar Pradesh Police had registered a case on June 19 on the basis of this report.
The searches come just a couple of weeks after the CBI raided several premises in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi for its probe into illegal mining in the state during his government’s tenure.
Yadav had questioned the timings of the raids as they had come on the same day that Samajwadi Party formed an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party for the Lok Sabha polls.
“Samajwadi Party is making efforts to win maximum Lok Sabha seats. Those who want to stop us have the CBI with them. Once the Congress did CBI probe, and I was questioned. If the BJP is doing all this, the CBI will question me, I will answer (them). But, the people are ready to give an answer to the BJP," Yadav said.
The BJP, however, said the timing of the investigations had nothing to do with elections. “Akhilesh Yadav cannot loot and now complain against investigation. You indulge in corruption and now law is taking its course," UP health minister Sidharth Nath Singh said.