With new evidence surfacing in the EPF scam in state-owned Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL), Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday questioned the BJP's "silence" in the case and asked the state's Yogi Adityanath government to come clean on it. "As per a news report, after the BJP came to power in Uttar Pradesh, UPPCL employees' money was invested in defaulting company DHFL on March 24, 1971. The question is why did the BJP remain silent on the matter for two years? Tell the employees, how will they get back their hard-earned money," she tweeted.
"The government should also tell which other departments have invested money in other defaulting companies. The government will have to reply, it's a question of hard-earned money after all," she added.
The Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) is reported to have invested more than Rs 2,600 crore of the Employees' Provident Fund in the controversial Dewan Housing Finance Limited (DHFL), whose promoters were recently grilled by the Enforcement Directorate for their links with a front company of the late Iqbal Mirchi, a former aide of Dawood Ibrahim.
Acting swiftly after the scam came to light, the Yogi government registered an FIR and arrested two senior officials -- then secretary of the UP State Power Employees Trust Praveen Kumar Gupta, and UPPCL then director (Finance) and chief of its Provident Fund Trust Sudhanshu Dwivedi.
But according to new documents that have surfaced, the decision to invest in DHFL was taken after the Yogi Adityanath government came to power on March 19, 2017.
This goes against Power Minister Shrikant Sharma's claim recently that the decision to invest EPF money in DHFL was taken by the previous Samajwadi Party government led by Akhilesh Yadav. Yadav had also said that the decision to invest in DHFL was taken by Gupta and Dwivedi without bringing the matter to the knowledge of the UPPCL Managing Director.
Referring to the FIR and minutes of the meeting of the UP State Power Sector Employees Trust, leaders of UP Power Employees' Joint Committee said the decision to invest the hard-earned money of the employees in a shady company was taken on March 24, 2017, five days after Yogi Adityanath took oath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
All India Power Engineers Federation Chairman Shailendra Dubey told IANS over phone that though he welcomed the state government's decision to initiate a CBI inquiry into the EPF scam, the Chief Minister should first remove top officials of the Energy Ministry to ensure that files and documents related the scam remain safe.
"It is now clear that the decision was taken on March 24, 2017, during the Yogi government's tenure. We have seen the minutes of the meeting, where the present government authorised the two Trust officials to invest the EPF money. As huge funds were transferred to DHFL between 2017 and 2018, the present set of officials should not remain in the Power Ministry," said Dubey.
In a letter to the UPPCL Chairman, its employee unions have also questioned the state government's decision to invest their General Provident Fund (GPF) and Contributory Provident Fund (CPF) money in a shady private company without caring about the future of its own employees.