Lucknow: For the last one week, the entry of Kunda independent legislator Raghuraj Pratap Singh aka Raja Bhaiya into the Cabinet of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was the biggest open secret in Uttar Pradesh.
Known for his proximity to Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav as also the pathological antipathy that Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati has for him, the 43-year-old scion of Bhadri estate, however raised enough eyebrows on Thursday as he was sworn in as a Cabinet minister in the 47-member strong ministry of Akhilesh Yadav.
Once notorious for his high-handedness, Raja Bhaiya's inclusion into the Cabinet has dented the 'clean image' that the SP projected under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav, political observers feel.
The chief minister however was dismissive to questions to this effect and said that Raja Bhaiya was framed in many cases and this could be verified by examining the dates on which cases were registered against him.
Raja Bhaiya is accused in eight criminal cases that include attempt to murder, abduction, corruption and dacoity. The politician was incarcerated in 2002 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). He has won the polls for the fifth consecutive time.
He found his way into the Samajwadi Party politics via the Thakur lobby, then "taken care" of by Amar Singh. He slowly became the face of "Thakur oppression" by the then Mayawati government and was deftly used by Mulayam Singh for furthering the party base among the Thakurs. In the last government of Mulayam Singh, not only were the POTA charges dropped immediately after his swearing in, he was also given Z-plus security cover by the state government.