Amid a war of words between the Uttar Pradesh government and the opposition over the EPF scam, the state Congress on Wednesday sought a probe into power minister Shrikant Sharma's "visit to Dubai in 2017".
The minister, however, claimed that he has never been on a foreign trip, and asked as to on what basis, such "baseless allegations" were being levelled against him.
Sharma is in the eye of a raging storm over parking of EPF money of Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) staff to the tune of over Rs 2,600 crore in scam-hit DHFL, whose promoters were recently grilled by the Enforcement Directorate for their links with a front company of Iqbal Mirchi, a former aide of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim.
"It should be probed as to why Shrikant Sharma visited Dubai in September-October 2017. Whom did he meet there?" Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu posed in a tweet.
In another tweet, Lallu said the matter of investment of UPPCL employees' EPF money in Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited not only amounts to corruption but is also related to national security.
The state Congress chief intensified his attacks on the government days after the party's UP spokesperson Ashok Singh, in a series of tweets, demanded that Sharma be "sacked" from the ministry in the wake of "such a major scandal".
"After such a major scandal in the UP Power Corporation, ... will Yogi ji tell as to why is the Energy minister not being removed," Singh had said.
Facing flak from the opposition on the issue, Sharma sought to put up a brave face by asserting that the UP Congress chief was levelling "baseless allegations in order to garner publicity in the media".
"His (Lallu's) leader goes to foreign countries on vacation. If he has to seek report, then it should be for the trips undertaken by Rahul Gandhi, who despite being a SPG protectee, roams around in foreign countries without security. What does he do?" Sharma asked.
"Mr Lallu is transcending all barriers of dignity in public life and dabbling in petty politics. He must keep these things in mind," the Uttar Pradesh minister said.