For the Congress, the Supreme Court ordering the transfer of all criminal cases related to the mysterious Vyapam scam -- and linked deaths -- to the CBI for investigation is an enormous political victory.
But for Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, the most high profile petitioner in the case, this is just the beginning: “The importance of today’s order will now depend on the way the CBI conducts its investigations. We would require the Supreme Court to monitor the probe,” he told The Hindu in an interview.
But despite Mr. Singh’s restraint, he is clearly the man of the moment who appears to have boosted new vigour into the Congress. Indeed, hours after the Supreme Court order was pronounced, his official residence was abuzz with party workers, friends and well-wishers from Madhya Pradesh and, of course, journalists of all stripes had taken over 64 Lodhi Estate. There were even doctors holding forth on poisons – that in the best mystery murder style – cannot be easily detected.
Responding to why the BJP leadership – now beset by financial and other scandals in a significant swathe of the country, from Maharashtra and Rajasthan to Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh – had not acted at all against any of the concerned ministers/chief ministers, Mr. Singh says ironically, “It’s a party with a difference (a reference to an old boast of the BJP). The fact is that ex-national president and current home minister Rajnath Singh made a statement that only UPA ministers resign, not those belonging to the BJP and NDA. It is a statement that reflects the brazenly fascist state of mind of the BJP.” He still remains firm in his demand that chief minister Shivraj Chauhan must go.
Underscoring the RSS’s role in the scam, the Congress general secretary said, “The mastermind Lakshmikant Sharma was an RSS pracharak who earned Rs 800 a month as a teacher at a local Saraswati Shishu Mandir. Suddenly, he was worth hundreds of crores – now he is behind bars.” Then, there is Sudhir Sharma, who was OSD to Lakshmikant Sharma who within 10 years acquired assets worth more than Rs 10 crores – It was he, Mr. Singh said, “who was financing Suresh Soni and other senior RSS leaders”.
“They all operated as one family,” Mr. Singh continues, “it needs to be exposed: otherwise people’s faith in the system will go.” For this is case that has sent 2,000 persons to jail, with another 600 absconding, not to mention over 40 mysterious deaths linked to it.
On the likelihood of Madhya Pradesh governor Ram Naresh Yadav (earlier named in an FIR in the case that was subsequently quashed by the high court) being asked to quit, Mr. Singh said, “Ram Naresh Yadav should have been removed earlier, immediately after he was named in an FIR. He shouldn’t have stuck on.” The Centre appeared too have no qualms, he said, in removing Governors against whom there was no FIR But retained the one against whom there was an FIR.
Mr. Singh also made a case for making some of the accused – “innocent, gullible youth who thought the only way to get to medical college was by paying money” – into government witnesses, and instead “concentrating on all those who designed and executed the job” and putting them behind bars.
Mr. Singh, who spearheaded the Congress campaign against the Shivraj Chauhan government, now plans to turn his attention in Madhya Pradesh to the sand mining mafia that, he says, has links with the chief minister’s office in Bhopal.