Dec 26, 2006 at 10:02pm IST

Kavita murder straining SP-RLD combine

Lucknow: Elections in UP are round the corner, but the Mulayam Singh government has other things to think about.

A sleaze scandal has hit the government and a member of the UP Chief Minister's Cabinet - Kiran Pal Singh - is hanging on to his portfolio.

Two ministers of Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) - former minister, Meerajuddin Ahmed and the current Food and Civil Supplies Minister of state, Babulal - have already put in their papers in connection with the Kavita Rani murder case.

Babulal resigned because his name was prominent in letters recovered from Kavita Rani's hostel room that said that he was threatening her.

Taking credit for their resignation is none other than RLD head Ajit Singh. By asking his minsiters to step down, Ajit Singh is clearly building pressure on Mulayam Singh Yadav, RLD being a key ally of the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Western UP.

To add to SP's woes, the Opposition Congress has started taking pot shots at the Chief Minister and SP minister, Kiran Pal Singh, who was also named in Kavita Rani's letters.

Says Chief spoksperson of the Congress, Akhilesh Pratap Singh, "Ministers should resign and an independent probe should be ordered."

At the same time the Samajwadi Party (SP) has given strong indications that the relations between Ajit Singh and Mulayam are not the same anymore.

And it's not just the relationship between the two parties that is heading south, but even the credibility of the police is taking a beating.

Ravinder Pradhan, the main accused in the Kavita murder case, has said that Kavita made a pornographic CD of Babulal. He also said that this was not the only minister that she had caught on tape. Pradhan said that they used the CDs to blackmail these ministers and get money out of them.

The police acknowledges the fact that Kavita had made many more CDs of several powerful ministers, but says they are not ready to name these ministers yet.

However, the police's theory - that Kavita was killed because she was demanding a larger share of the blackmail booty - does not hold much water for the police has failed to explain why Pradhan would kill Kavita when she was a goose laying golden eggs.

Yet another question that remains unanswered is 'why did minister Babulal call Kavita 57 times the last time they made contact?'

These and many more questions that are bound to haunt the electorate on the eve of the UP elections.

(With inputs from Shiv Pujan Jha in New Delhi)