Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s public outburst last week sealed the fate of the 68-year-old Rasheed Masood, jailed yesterday after the special CBI court sentenced him to four years of imprisonment. However, not much is known about the kind of moves which were made for Masood, who was being seen as the party’s big hope in western Uttar Pradesh for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, from bigger accommodation to elevation of profile to a new post.
Masood, who started his career with the Janata Party in the mid-seventies, was a Member of Parliament (MP) from the Samajwadi Party till the state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. He switched over to the Congress just a month before the elections.
Yesterday, the day his sentencing was to be announced, Masood was so confident of victory that he did not take along his insulin shots and medicines when he went to the court. It was only when he was arrested that his lawyer had to come home rushing and deliver him his essentials.
To begin with, Masood was to soon move out of his relatively smaller accommodation in Delhi’s Lodhi Estate area to a ‘more prominent’ bungalow on the Ashok Road, something which was under process at the time of his going behind bars. In fact, his status too was to be elevated from that of an MP to that of a cabinet rank minister. Said an aide, “In the middle of August, we received a notification from the Cabinet Secretary’s office informing us about this elevation but now nothing will come through.”
In fact in April, Masood was made the chairman of an export authority under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India called Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). The organisation which was in existence since 1986 and before that as an export promotion council, has always been the domain of bureaucrats. The only exception made was for Masood. Said a staffer, “Masood took over as the chairman on April 3, 2013. However for some reason he never got the full powers a chairman has, including financial ones. He was in fact pursuing this matter till his last day in office.” Not the one to be a regular at work, those at APEDA said he barely came to office ‘once in two months’, using his personal staff in fact to handle all appointments.