Vyapam scam: why a CBI probe may help Shivraj Chouhan
With the body count of people connected with the Vyapam scam rising, the beleaguered Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has finally agreed for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). "The investigation (by the SIT) is on the right track. However, if there are some doubts, CBI should investigate it. I will request the High Court for CBI inquiry, keeping in mind the public sentiments," Chouhan said on Tuesday.
Did Chouhan really buckle under pressure from the Opposition and the media or is this a trick to wriggle out of the crisis?
The Congress is sceptical of Chouhan's intentions and believes that the investigation might get further derailed. "This subterfuge of the MP CM writing to the High Court for a CBI inquiry is nothing but the BJP leadership's attempt to hoodwink the people and derail the investigations into the Vyapam scam," said Jyotiraditya Scindia, Congress MP from Guna, Madhya Pradesh.
"This is nothing but hogwash and only an attempt to ease the mounting pressure of public opinion. It is a passing-the-parcel game between the Centre and the state, which are two sides of the same coin," Scindia added. The Congress is demanding a Supreme Court-monitored CBI investigation.
Scindia might be right. There are a number of things the BJP stands to gain by requesting a CBI probe. Firstly, the Supreme Court will hear the plea filed by Congress leader Digvijaya Singh and 3 whistleblowers in the Vyapam case on Thursday. With Chouhan asking for a CBI inquiry, the court is less likely to take a strong stand against the government.
BJP sources indicate that it would be easier to deal with the CBI than a Court-monitored SIT
Secondly, it will soften the blows that the government and the BJP have been receiving for the past few days.
"The Congress is using this issue to attack the BJP. They demanded a CBI inquiry, we agreed to it. What else do they want? Now, the Congress can't get any political benefit out of it," says a BJP leader.
Moreover, it isn't just Chouhan who's facing the heat in the Vyapam scam. Many other party leaders and RSS functionaries are allegedly involved in the case, which makes it extremely important for the BJP to deal with the crisis carefully.
"Helping Chouhan is not the intention. Its not the case of one man's involvement. There are others as well. That's how this case is different from other cases that surfaced recently,"says a party insider.
The Congress is no mood to let Chouhan off the hook.
"All of them are involved in this case, the top leadership, the government and the RSS. We will not let them get away with it. We will take the issue to the public. The Congress will continue the agitation against the state government and the BJP leadership," Congress leader and former MP CM Digvijaya Singh told Catch.
BJP sources also indicate that it would be easier to deal with the CBI than a Court-monitored SIT.
The CBI comes under the Department of Personnel in the Ministry of Personnel, Pension and Public Grievances, a portfolio held by PM Narendra Modi. During the UPA's tenure, the BJP used to criticise the PMO for 'controlling' investigations. The BJP will now stand accused of the same.
In April, the government appointed Gujarat cadre IPS officer Arun Kumar Sharma as joint director. The CBI already had another Gujarat cadre officer Keshav Kumar serving as joint director. Even he has been given a year's extension.
Before this, Sharma was heading Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) as special commissioner. Apparently, this post was created for him by the Gujarat government.
His name, along with other officers, came up regarding alleged attempts at derailing the investigation into the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. He also attracted criticism during the Snoop Gate controversy.