In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said there is widespread concern that Durga Shakti Nagpal, the UP IAS officer has been hastily suspended for unsubstantiated reasons.
"We must ensure that the officer is not unfairly treated," she told the Prime Minister. Nagpal had shot into limelight by acting against the sand mafia in the state.
Reacting sharply, SP leader Naresh Aggarwal, said Gandhi should write two more letters to the Prime Minister about her son-in-law Robert Vadra's land deals in Haryana and Rajasthan.
"Gandhi should write two more letters, one about the Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka who was suspended by the Chief Minister and another to the Rajasthan CM for suspending two IAS officers. In both the cases, the name of Robert Vadra, cropped up. These cases were related to land deals. So, she should write two more letters to PM so that justice is done in all these cases," he said.
Khemka had hit the spotlight alleging irregularities in Vadra's land deals in Haryana, a charge denied by the state government.
In the letter written by her as chairperson of National Advisory Council (NAC), Gandhi asked Singh to focus on such issues as highlighted by the present case and if there was need for bringing in more measures to protect government servants while upholding their duties.
A 2010 batch IAS officer, 28-year-old Nagpal was suspended on July 27 as Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar district, for allegedly ordering demolition of a wall of a mosque on the ground that it could have triggered communal tension.
BJP dubbed Gandhi's letter as just wasting time, saying both the Congress and the SP are hand-in-glove.
"SP is ruling in UP and the party supports UPA at the Centre. By writing a letter to PM, Gandhi is just completing a formality because she is ruling the country with the support of SP. And, she also needs SP's support on the Food Security Bill issue."
"SP and the Congress are hand-in-glove. They are wasting time by writing letters. If they want to solve the issue, they can use their influence to sort it out," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.
Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister had declined to answer queries about Nagpal when reporters asked him about it after the all-party meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath had replied in the negative when asked whether the issue of problems faced by an officer in a state can be raised in Parliament.
Speaking separately, Samajwadi Party MP Shailendra Kumar indicated that the issue is being resolved. "This issue is under the consideration of the state leadership. She has met the Chief Secretary. Some way will be found out....the issue is gradually being resolved."
Gandhi's letter has come amid growing demand for revoking the Nagpal's suspension order.
The Centre had earlier said that it was awaiting a report from the UP government based on which it will decide the future course of action.
Congress spokesperson Sandip Dikshit dismissed Agarwal's criticism and hailed Gandhi's "very powerful" letter saying "it echoes the sentiments of India" and has been written "very sensitively."
He also also rejected the SP leader's attempt to draw parallels between Nagpal and Khemka, saying the two cases are different.
"He (Khemka) was actually transferred before all the cases of so-called reports (regarding Vadra's land deals) came up. He was not somebody castigated and punished. "These are completely different issues. Even at that time when reports had come that Khemka was being punished, the Haryana government had come out and said that the gentleman was given a chance to present his case. There was no attempt to hide the truth in the Haryana case," claimed Dikshit.
Seeking to differentiate the Nagpal issue with that of Khemka, he said, "How is one related to the other....In this case you have taken administrative action and penalised a person by suspending. Khemka's case was not that."
To questions on whether Congress was earlier shy of commenting on the issue because it needed SP votes on Food Security Bill in the coming session of Parliament, Dikshit said,"it's not a matter of whether we want SP's votes or not. I do not think that vote in Parliament on critical issues like food security really depends on it."
Dikshit said that "what happened in Uttar Pradesh was symptomatic of the problem" that was continuing in the state "where people do not realise, where politics stops and where the rules, regulations, ethics and rule of law starts."
He said the current incident was a "stark example" of that. Dikshit rejected criticism that Congress was being silent on the issue before Gandhi wrote the letter saying "all of us were saying that what was done to this lady was entirely incorrect.