Neera Yadav's largesse benefited politicians of all hues
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
Motilal Vora and Romesh Bhandari may lead diametrically
opposite lifestyles, but the two governors (past and present)
of Uttar Pradesh have one thing in common. Both appear to be
equally averse to the idea
of curbing rampant corruption at the highest levels of the
state bureaucracy. And their apparent reluctance to give the statutory
nod to the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe a multi-billion rupee land scam
involving a senior lady IAS officer, proves the point.
The country's premier investigation agency was keen on probing serious
charges in the allotment of prized land at
NOIDA by civil servant Neera Yadav during her tenure as
chairman of the flourishing township on the outskirts of Delhi.
The CBI first aired its misgivings about the allotments to the UP
government about a year ago,
but then governor Motilal Vora saved Yadav by telling the agency
that he would refer the matter to the state vigilance department. The
then chief secretary, Mata Prasad, kept the file in limbo.
And there it rested until last month when CBI Director Joginder
Singh wrote an eight-page letter to Governor Bhandari, renewing the
agency's request for permission
to proceed against the officer. Until Wednesday afternoon
when he announced a judicial inquiry into the case, Bhandari too
preferred to keep the file on the backburner.
Neera Yadav has been a "rather controversial" figure
throughout her 25-year career in the civil service.
People who know her say she got away with
whatever she did, because of her influence
with UP's politicians, no matter what their inclination.
If she was close to then Congress chief minister Veer Bahadur Singh and
former minister Balram Yadav, she struck a chord with
Mulayam Singh Yadav as soon as the Samajwadi Party leader rode to power.
She switched sides to Mayawati when the Bahujan Samaj Party
general secretary became chief minister.
That altered loyalty gave her additional charge of Greater
NOIDA, the swiftly growing industrial township in
the neighbourhood of the federal capital.
The CBI director's letter reveals how the officer bypassed all norms
when it came to
obliging those who mattered with allotment of lucrative
plots in NOIDA.
The son of then chief secretary Mata Prasad, who sat on the file on which Vora had ordered a vigilance
probe, received a residential plot in a prized NOIDA sector. Two of Mayawati's brothers were awarded residential plots in the township.
According to the CBI, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lal Kishinchand Advani was a recipient of her alleged largesse.
One of Advani's kin secured a plot in NOIDA as did Samajwadi Party
leader Balram Yadav, a former
minister in the Mulayam Singh Yadav cabinet and currently accused of involvement in the
multi-million rupee ayurved scam.
Senior civil servants -- former cabinet secretary Surendra K Singh and present
Cabinet secretary T S R Subramaniam among others -- also received plots, according to
Many VIPS bought petty kiosks or tiny
shops -- juice stalls, paan-beedishops --
to fulfill the eligibility criterion for NOIDA plots.
Asks a young IAS officer, "Can you imagine a top bureaucrat's
wife being certified as
running a juice stall or chairman of the state electricity board
running a tailor's shop?"
Neera Yadav obtained four NOIDA plots for two daughters,
her husband and herself. On one plot measuring some 500
square metres in NOIDA's most expensive sector, a palatial
bungalow is currently under construction. The CBI, it is
learnt, estimates its cost at about Rs 7 million.
It is also alleged that the IAS officer owns property
in Bulandshahar, Ghaziabad and Lucknow, besides Bangalore and
Significantly, the CBI director's letter claims Yadav -- whose husband
Mahendra Singh Yadav quit the IPS to become a BJP MLA -- owns
real estate in London and Glasgow as well.
Soon after The Pioneer broke the story, Neera
Yadav accused some of her colleagues of having received
similar allotments from her predecessors at NOIDA.
She also addressed a press conference where she declared that 'I am being
framed simply because I happen to be
This declaration took a bizarre turn when one correspondent
reminded her that before she married Yadav she belonged
to a Brahmin family. Yadav then retorted, 'in a Hindu society
a woman automatically acquires the caste of the family she is
When she accused some IAS officers in the state, known for
their integrity, of being corrupt, the leader of the state IAS officers association
remarked, "Throwing mud at others does not give her
a clean chit; the whole world is aware of her reputation."
He also drew this correspondent's attention to
Neera Yadav's reaction to the association's
bid to identify the three most corrupt
IAS officers in the state through a
secret ballot. She was among the three officers who resigned in
a huff from the association to protest against what
she termed 'the illegal and unconstitutional' manner
in which the 'most corrupt' had been identified.
The result of that poll remains sealed in a bank
locker in Lucknow and will be opened on February
15, the opening day of the annual IAS Week in the state.