SP leader feigns illness to come out of jail, campaign

SP leader feigns illness to come out of jail, campaign

SP leader feigns illness to come out of jail, campaign

In what could be a huge embarrassment for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, a Samajwadi Party (SP) leader convicted in a criminal case has claimed that he came out of the prison feigning illness to campaign for the party in the recently held by-elections. 

Speaking to local scribes on Saturday following completion of his jail term, Dilip Verma from Bahairaich district –about 200 km from here— said he acted on the “request” of district officials. 

A large contingent of SP leaders and activists, including district president Ram Tej Yadav, were present to welcome Verma. “District officials had contacted me on my cell phone and requested me to campaign in favour of the SP nominee...I feigned illness and was admitted to the hospital,” he said.

Verma claimed he had campaigned extensively for the party candidate from Balaha Assembly seat in the district while being officially in the hospital. “I also possess recordings of my speeches,” he said.

The SP won the seat. Though district officials strongly rejected the claims, BJP leaders have asked the government how a jailed politician could campaign for the ruling party. “The matter should be investigated,” said the  BJP leaders.

However, there is little reason to doubt Verma’s version as he had done the same once before. In February, he came out of jail for a medical check up after claiming to be ill and addressed a press conference at the hospital in the presence of SP leaders to announce he was joining the party.

Jail authorities had then said Verma could not be stopped from addressing the press since only two policemen had accompanied him.  

A court had sentenced Verma to five years for assaulting a policeman. A higher court later reduced the sentence to three years.