The Bharatiya Janata Party seems to be going through a bad phase with three of its sitting MLAs, including a Cabinet Minister and a former Minister, facing allegations about their involvement in a high-profile land scam and a murder.
While MLA and former Minister Kamal Patel was arrested and presented before a special court by the Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday, Industries Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya and MLA Ramesh Mendola have a first information report lodged against them by the Congress State unit over a Rs.100 crore land scam in the State's industrial capital Indore.
The CBI charged Mr. Patel with destruction of evidence in the murder of Durgesh Jaat by his son Sudeep at the farm house of Congress MLA Rajendra Patel in 2008. Interestingly, Mr. Vijayvargiya and Mr. Mendola reached the court where Mr. Patel was to be presented and made a statement that he was being framed by the CBI at the directive of the Central government.
Since Mr. Vijayvargiya is a Cabinet Minister, the statement has been seen by many as unnecessarily involving the State government in the issue.
Mr. Patel, who is being defended by Cabinet Minister and State BJP president Prabhat Jha as the “hero of Harda” in the media, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. He allegedly masterminded the brutal attack on Tata Institute of Social Sciences professor and political activist Shamim Modi in Mumbai last year.
Ms. Modi, who works with the tribals of Harda, contested against Mr. Patel in the 2008 Assembly elections and has filed a number of Public Interest Litigations against him.
In 2007, Mr. Patel was said to be behind the burning down of a Pardhi settlement in the Betul district. A report prepared by the National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes mentions Mr. Patel making statements about not allowing Pardhis, a de-notified tribe, from entering the State, let alone the district.
With the BJP State president defending Mr. Patel, it now remains to be seen whether the State government will act to resolve this crisis, including concerns raised by the Opposition and the civil society in the State.