Editor's note: This piece was originally published on 7 July. It is being republished today in the light of Supreme Court's order over the petition seeking his removal as MP Governor.
The BJP has been loyal to at least one Ram—the Vyapam scam-tainted governor of Madhya Pradesh.
In the long list of aaya Ram and gaya Ram governors shifted, sacked and nudged out by the Narendra Modi government, Ram Naresh Yadav has mysteriously survived in MP.
He is perhaps the only one to have completed four years in Raj Bhawan; among the few allowed by the Modi government to continue while all others appointed by UPA-2 have been replaced.
The MP Governor was (technically he still is) one of the accused in the multi-level MP Professional Examination Board (PEB), popularly called Vyapam, scam. His son Shailesh, also an accused, is among those who died under mysterious circumstances.
Investigations have revealed that the Raj Bhawan staff was part of the gang that manipulated admissions and recruitment tests conducted by PEB. The governor’s former OSD Dhanraj Yadav is among those arrested by the Special Task Force (SIT) probing the Vyapam scam. The Vyapam scam has a clearly established trail to the Raj Bhawan.
In February 2015, the investigating agency filed an FIR against Yadav under various sections of the IPC. He was accused of conspiracy and forgery under the Information Technology Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act. The SIT report against Yadav said he had recommended five names for recruitment as forest guards.
Yadav, who was accused number 10 in the FIR, moved the high court citing constitutional immunity. His lawyer Ram Jethmalani argued that the agency can’t probe an incumbent governor and that the charges against him are based on hearsay.
In April, the high court asked the investigating agency to remove the governor’s name from the FIR. The court said Yadav enjoys constitutional immunity from any criminal proceedings while he is in office and investigations can be carried out only after he retires.
Though he may have bought some more time, Yadav still hasn’t got a clean chit. The head of the special investigation team (SIT) probing the scam says action will be taken against Yadav after he retires in September 2016.
So, effectively, Yadav has managed to evade the SIT by taking refuge in the Raj Bhawan.
Ideally, Yadav should have stepped down when his name appeared in the scam. Ethically, morally and politically—he is a Congress nominee surviving on Modi’s generosity—Yadav’s position is untenable. But then it is perhaps too much to expect politicians to uphold morality, probity and propriety in public life.
But, what is stopping Modi from replacing the MP Governor to facilitate an independent probe? Going by the noise he made during the campaign against tainted-Congress leaders, his promise of swift action against corruption, and the NDA machinations that led to the resignation of other UPA-appointed Governors like Sheila Dikshit, BL Joshi, Shekhar Dutt, Shivraj Patil and MK Narayanan, Yadav should have been first on the PM’s list.
Even the Congress has demanded action against Yadav. In 2014, when Yadav’s name first appeared in connection with the scam, the MP unit of the Congress had asked him to step down. Again, in February 2015 when he was booked by the SIT, sought his resignation during a debate in the state Assembly.
Yet, Ram’s rajya in MP continues.
What is so compelling about Yadav? Why is Modi not acting against him? Why has he been spared in spite of accusations, allegations and an FIR when several other Governors have been replaced just because they were appointed by the Congress? Why is the BJP keen on letting Yadav continue when the Congress wants him replaced?
The Vyapam scam is much bigger in scale and magnitude than we know. The investigations so far by the SIT have exposed just the surface and a few key players. Several BJP workers, members and office-bearers of the RSS and its affiliates are among the beneficiaries of the PEB scam that went on for at least five years under Chouhan’s watch. Many more can be nailed if the probe is extended to the Raj Bhawan and people close to the chief minister.
As the Governor of MP, Yadav must have been privy to a lot of information; he may have had access to important files, documents, deliberation and decisions. Perhaps Yadav knows too much and letting the SIT grill him could lead to new revelations and insights into the scam.
Will Modi act and let this Ram undergo agni pariksha?
Updated Date: Jul 09, 2015 13:03 PM