Lucknow, April 29: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath today said there was "no space for criminals" in his state, the assertion coming from a stage he shared with a murder accused who sat a few seats away.
Amanmani Tripathi, accused of murdering his wife Sara Singh but out on bail since March 9, was seen walking up to the BJP leader and touching his feet.
Amanmani's father Amarmani Tripathi and mother Madhu Mani are both murder convicts, serving life terms for the 2003 killing of Madhumita Shukla, a Lucknow-based poetess.
Adityanath's assertion came during a government event at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gorakhpur University, where the chief minister, who is also the mahant of Gorakhnath temple, announced several development projects for east Uttar Pradesh.
"There is no space for criminals in Uttar Pradesh," Adityanath, who was at the programme for about 45 minutes, said.
"Either they should leave the state or the law would soon start taking its course," Adityanath, who is on a two-day tour of Gorakhpur, 300km east of Lucknow, added.
Amanmani, who won the recent Assembly elections as an Independent candidate from Nautanwa in Maharajganj district, was on the dais throughout.
This is not the first time Adityanath has warned criminal elements in the state since taking over as chief minister last month. He had earlier been quoted as saying they would either have to run away from Uttar Pradesh or get prepared to be put behind bars.
"Criminals must not think about continuing their activities in the state. There are only two places for them - one is jail and the other... they know what is the other place for them," he had said an hour after taking oath on March 19.
Amanmani is accused of strangulating his wife Sara and then cooking up a car accident scene on a national highway in Firozabad. The CBI is probing the July 2015 case.
Sara's mother Seema Singh said the BJP must stay away from her daughter's alleged killer. "I have heard that he was trying to get entry into the BJP, where he has many sympathisers," she said. "But it is disappointing for those who expect clean governance under Yogi."
Sources in the BJP said Amanmani had offered prayers at Gorakhnath temple on March 12 and taken Adityanath's blessings.
A BJP leader, who asked not to be named, said Amarmani, the senior Tripathi, was in Gorakhpur jail in 2007 when Adityanath had been lodged there for over a week for inciting communal violence. "Amarmani had helped him a lot at that time. We are not surprised if Yogi is obliged and wants to help his son," the leader added.
Dwijendra Tripathi, spokesperson for the Uttar Pradesh Congress, said: "When Yogi says criminals should get out of UP, he only means the criminals of the Samajwadi Party.... Those criminals of the SP who have joined the BJP would also be free from any fear of law. Yogi is out and out into lip-service politics."
Amarmani is considered close to many BJP leaders. But his friendship with Samajwadi patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav is no secret either.