Reacting sharply to allegation of his and his family’s involvement in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam, State’s Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today posted a series of tweets, got CorelDRAW images with the same content and uploaded them on Facebook.
The tweets include a threat to slap a defamation suit on political rivals who made the allegation. Earlier, Indian National Congress (INC) leader Shakeel Ahmad had posted on Twitter that the accused, former minister Laxmikant Sharma, who is in jail in connection with the scam, had received 139 phone calls of a lady from Chouhan’s residence. His tweet comes a day after his party accused Sadhana Singh, the wife of the Madhya Pradesh CM, of her involvement in the scam.
Union Minister and MP Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Narendra Singh Tomar told reporters, “Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will file a defamation suit against Congress chief spokesman KK Mishra for levelling baseless allegations against him in MPPEB scam.”
INC general secretary Digvijaya Singh’s tweets were not as attacking. He described what has been known so far as the tip of the iceberg. He further said that he would write more about it in his blog: “Shall come out about it in detail in a separate Blog. No reaction coming from BJP and RSS. Why?”
The scam was unearthed after the local police busted a racket that helped candidates clear the PMT using unfair means. The multi-crore scam, estimated to run into nearly Rs 2,000 crore, is being compared to the Bihar Fodder Scam in its breadth and simplicity of operation. A public interest litigation in the Jabalpur Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court alleges that the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) has duped lakhs of candidates by setting up proxy candidates to clear various examinations for recruitment to state government jobs. While the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led state government set up a Special Task Force (STF) to probe the allegations, he has so far refused to hand over the case to the CBI.
The PIL alleges that in the past nine years, the MPPEB has made Rs 125 crore by charging fees for 150 recruitment examinations, whose results were fixed. In 2011-12 alone, the MPPEB made Rs 83 crore by charging examination fees but jobs were given to candidates who paid bribes to politicians and other middlemen. According to the plaintiff KK Mishra, the entire scam is to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore, including Rs 500 crore made fraudulently through Pre-Medical Tests (PMT) for admission to MBBS courses.
Over 100 students who allegedly cleared the Pre-Medical Test (PMT) through unfair means have been arrested by the Special Task Force from different districts of Madhya Pradesh, STF sources said today.
The students were arrested since yesterday from various places in the state, they said.
The PMT was conducted by Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) whose top officials were already arrested by the STF since the scam surfaced in 2013.
“The figure would go up as arrests are continuing even today, but so far over 100 medical students have been arrested by the STF in connection with the PMT scam,” an STF official said today.
The arrests were carried out after Madhya Pradesh High Court, which is monitoring the scam, directed the STF to submit a status report in the matter on 30 June. PMT was conducted by the MPPEB whose top officials were already arrested by STF since the scam surfaced in 2013.
Chouhan had a tough time last December when Special Task Force (STF) officials leaked his rival in the BJP Uma Bharti’s name in the scam, before going on to give her a clean chit. This gave rise to conspiracy theories. A fuming Bharti, then an MLA from Uttar Pradesh, called it a plot to damage her. Now, even Sharma’s supporters have pointed an accusing finger at Chouhan, who was away in South Africa when the arrest was carried out.
In fact, a previous tweet by Singh appeared to rub in the intra-party rivalry in the BJP.
However, Chouhan will have none of it. He would like the people to see the whole allegation as a reflection of the INC’s frustration for having lost consecutive elections in Madhya Pradesh. However, he ends today’s message with an acknowledgement that there could be systemic flaws in the system that must be corrected!