The entry of the Central Bureau of Investigation into the scene has already created an impact. The CBI claimed its first victim, or rather victims, on Wednesday, after two FIRs were filed against a member of the Madhya Pradesh Backward Classes and Minorities Commission, and his son! The FIRs relate to the Pre-Medical Test of 2010, and the pre-PG Examination, 2011.
The CBI has also been ordered by the Supreme Court to investigate the mysterious deaths! Reportedly, 49 people have lost their lives till date, giving the Vyapam Scam a truly dark and evil feel. Several high-profile politicians and bureaucrats are also involved in the scam.
Irregularities and corruption on a huge scale in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), or MP Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal, abbreviated in Hindi as Vyapam, has provided enough ammunition to the Opposition parties, especially Congress.
It has squarely accused Shivraj Singh Chouhan for heading the multi-crore ‘cash-for-jobs’ scam. The scam has come fortuitously for the beleaguered Congress party. The party has mobilized every loud-mouth in its ranks to go out there and shoot to kill. Digvijay Singh, leading the Congress brigade, is a natural choice.
He sees this as his only opportunity to destabilize the BJP Government in the State, and reclaim his place as the chief minister. The Congress general secretary has demanded that Shivraj Singh Chouhan step down.
This is not a game of thrones and Shivraj Singh Chouhan is no pushover. Standing his ground, the CM has counter-charged, saying he was the one who ordered probe into the scam.
“The Vyapam matter was not exposed by the Congress or the media. It was done by me when I discovered a racket in the Pre-Medical Test admissions,” said the chief minister as a matter-of-factly. The CM first initiated probe into the Vyapam scam in 2012-13, based on information provided by the Indore range Inspector General (IG) of Police. It was Chouhan who directed that the scam be exposed, and culprits punished.
But Congress’ anxiety is understandable. They have still not recovered from the extraordinary defeat in the general elections, and are trying to avenge the same. It is their compulsion to attack Shivraj Singh Chouhan. How can Congress allow a BJP politician, under the prevailing circumstances, escape their volatile reactions? Unfortunately, they are sullying the name of Madhya Pradesh, a State that has achieved double-digit economic growth, and is number one in agriculture in the country. But ‘politics of revenge’ can be blinding.
Had Narendra Modi refused the privilege of Prime Ministership, Shivraj Singh Chouhan would have been the natural choice. He is perceived to be one of India’s most sincere and straightforward politicians, clearly reflected in the manner in which the Madhya Pradesh chief minister has been winning elections for the past 10 years. He is undisputed and has enjoyed the confidence of the people ever since he took charge in 2005.
But none of this makes him incapable of committing a crime. The tendency to break the law can be consuming if the incentives are high. Even the holiest of souls are capable of taking u-turns. But do they?
Did Shivraj Singh Chouhan really mastermind the Vyapam Scam? The honest answer is, we don’t know. Nobody knows. Hell, we may never know!
The case against the three-time chief minister for allegedly being party to India’s most long-drawn, killer, and complex scam – The Vyapam Scam – is subjudice. The matter is being investigated under the Supreme Court’s watch. Instead of being quick to pronounce him guilty, we must exercise restraint. The judgment will come once the probe is over.
But considering the fact that the Vyapam scam first reared its ugly head way back in the mid-90s, and thereafter, has only taken turn for the worse, we may never know the full scale of the bribery and sleaze involved in the corruption. The death toll has reached 49 and the SC has said it will not allow it to reach half-century. Whether the CBI is able to get to the bottom of the matter or not, only time will tell.
But I am inclined to question: Is Shivraj Singh Chouhan capable of supervising mass killings? Do we have any precedence of any misdemeanor on Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s part?
He may be guilty, maybe he’s not. But till we are sure, we shouldn’t self-appoint ourselves as judge, jury and the executioner!