Did RSS use Vyapam money for its outreach among SC/STs?
As the Central Bureau of Investigation's probe into the Vyapam scam gains momentum, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is facing the heat.
It has been alleged that the RSS sought the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board's (MPPEB) help in opening new educational institutions in the state. This is beyond the ambit of the MPPEB, also known as Vyapam. But government authorities were more than willing to meet their demand.
The board was all set to allocate more than Rs 17 crore for setting up an engineering college in Shahdol. Source say that this was under instructions from the then Technical Education Minister, Lakshmikant Sharma.
The minister's directive
Lakshmikant Sharma chaired a review meeting of the Vyapam Board on 30 June 2011. Sources reveal that the minister instructed the board officials to help establish engineering colleges in regions with a high SC-ST population.
In August 2011, the Secretary of the Technical Education Department prepared a proposal to build an engineering college with an estimated cost of Rs 27 crore in Shahdol. An inter-departmental committee was formed in December that year which recommended the release of Rs 17.5 crore from Vyapam's funds for the purpose.
Sharma accepted the proposal in another review meeting of the board held in January 2013. This is despite the fact that the law governing Vyapam clearly restricted the role of the board to conducting examinations.
The then convenor of Vyapam, Pankaj Trivedi, informed the minister of this restriction. Sharma's response was to send a proposal for amending the Vyapam Act 2007. This was formulated in consultation with the Additional Attorney General.
The proposal said that the Vyapam should be given a right to give and receive aid for the establishment of educational institutions. It was still pending with the state government when the Vyapam scam came to light, thus impeding the minister's plan.
A Shahdol based family, closely related to the BJP and Sangh Parivar, have been specially interested in establishing an engineering college in Shahdol district. Many members of the family are also accused in the scam.
One such accused, a woman, has died under mysterious circumstances. Four members of this family have got jobs through Vyapam, informs Ajay Dubey, a whistleblower in the case.
The Sangh wanted to increase its influence in SC-ST dominated areas of Madhya Pradesh. Sources say that Sangh functionaries felt that Vyapam was the best tool for this purpose.
Digivijaya Singh's allegations
Meanwhile, the Congress has demanded that a hard disk and an excel sheet related to the case be investigated again. These were provided by Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh to the SIT, STF and even the Prime Minister's Office.
Singh claimed that this material showed evidence of bungling in the appointments of at least 48 persons by Vyapam. However, the SIT-STF had challenged the veracity of this evidence in its status report submitted to the High Court.
The court had later accepted this report. But now the Congress' state unit is arguing that no authentic agency has discarded the excel sheet as evidence. According to KK Mishra, the Congress party's chief spokesman in the state, it was rejected merely by SIT and STF, whose probe lacks credibility.