By ATUL CHANDRA
Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni is no stranger to controversies and has faced several cases in the past, including that of murder. The alleged involvement of his son Ashish in the death of seven farmers and a journalist in Lakhimpur Kheri on October 3 triggering uproar in the Lok Sabha is therefore not surprising. The Opposition is demanding his sacking, but the government is in no mood to accede to the demand. Mishra is also not keen to oblige the Opposition by himself offering to resign.
Given the Union minister’s reputation, his son Ashish’s conviction in the alleged murders may not be easy. Going by the government’s line that Ajay Mishra has nothing to do with the crime committed by his son, the removal of the Union minister will be just as difficult. Surprisingly, the government which claims to be value based is not in the least embarrassed about the minister’s misbehaviour with the media or even over the alleged brutal act of his son Ashish.
Indeed, we have come a long way from the days of Lal Bahadur Shastri and Madhavrao Scindia who resigned from the Union ministry on moral grounds for different reasons. One thought that the term ‘moral ground’, would prick the conscience of the junior minister in the sensitive Ministry of Home Affairs and prod him to resign. That is too much to expect from the man for whom moral ground would be nothing more than a frivolous term.
In any case the term “moral ground” has been obliterated in the present day politics and there has hardly been a resignation for that reason in recent years. It is possible the minister was reprimanded, but that won’t serve the Opposition’s purpose. Nor will it help heal the wounds of families of those killed in such an outrageous manner as “deliberately” crushing them under the wheels of a vehicle.
Ajay Mishra was inducted into the Union ministry as a Brahmin face. It is speculated that Mishra was picked against the wish of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Dropping him from the ministry a few months before elections could antagonise Brahmin voters and prove politically detrimental. Besides, the party may not like to see a smile on UP CM’s face.
Running over of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri by a motor vehicle allegedly driven rashly by Ashish, the son of Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra, has created an embarrassing situation for the Central and UP governments. The Central government has defended the minister and not allowed a discussion on his removal in the Lok Sabha. The UP government was pulled up by the Supreme Court for dragging its feet in the probe.
Four farmers were killed when a vehicle in Ashish’s convoy ran over the farmers protesting against the farm laws. Four others, including a journalist, were killed in the violence that followed. The Special Investigating Team has called it a “deliberate act of murder”.
Had the Supreme Court not appointed a former judge and IPS officers of its choice, Ashish Mishra would have got away with the alleged murder. The farmers would have been branded Khalistanis. Will the government still cling to Ajay Mishra or drop him like a hot potato?