PEB scam: Congress expose set to make MP assembly session a stormy one

The Congress is constantly raising doubts about the STF investigations since the confidential reports of the investigation officers are written by the government.

Chandrakant Naidu February 17, 2015 22:05:18 IST
PEB scam: Congress expose set to make MP assembly session a stormy one

Bhopal: The Congress' latest exposé of the professional examination board scam is expected to keep the temperature high in the Madhya Pradesh assembly session beginning on Wednesday.

The latest upheaval is interpreted differently by different players in state politics. There are indications of impasse in the assembly from the outset. The Congress is expected to boycott Governor Ram Naresh Yadav’s address as his son Shailesh is among the latest to be named by the Special Task Force inquiring into the scandal. A notice has been issued to him. Congress legislator Jitu Patwari says under the circumstances the Governor should have put in his papers instead of addressing the House. There is speculation over possible resignation of the Governor after the address.

PEB scam Congress expose set to make MP assembly session a stormy one

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. AFP

The Congress’ political stock is at its lowest in the state with the civic elections largely going in the ruling BJP’s favour. The urban voter’s mood was reflected in the sweep of all the 14 state municipal corporations in the state. But should that weaken the case the Congress has built so meticulously against the chief minister, an Union minister, the BJP and its parent organisation, the RSS? Instead of making an emotional build-up over the issue, the ruling party should come up with pointed rebuttal or prosecute the accusers. Even Union Minister Uma Bharti has preferred to buy time instead of responding fast over her involvement in the scam. The Congress has tried to capitalise on the rift between him and chief minister by pointing to the possible conspiracy to blame her even for the cases involving Chouhan.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has referred to the trust people have shown in him and his party through the past three elections. This, according to him, should disprove the charges. The state BJP president Nandkumar Singh Chouhan says the party stands united behind the Chouhan and would take the fight to the streets. The idea apparently is shout down the Congress.

The Congress is constantly raising doubts about the STF investigations since the confidential reports of the investigation officers are written by the government. Though Chouhan has frequently said he is not afraid of investigations he has stubbornly resisted the demand for CBI inquiry. Even Uma Bharti has been demanding that.

In the latest instance Chouhan's reaction is quite similar to that of Lalu Prasad fter his arrest in the fodder scam. He had said the communal forces and feudal lords can’t stand a poor man like him becoming the chief minister. Chouhan said the princes and Maharajas in the Congress can’t stand a poor man like him becoming the chief minister. The Congress campaign against him is a pointer to that.

The Congress alleges that "investigating agency has been undermining the majesty of justice and hoodwinking the High Court and the Special investigation Team (SIT)" by submitting flawed charge-sheets to shield the chief minister and other ministers by tampering with the evidence. The accusers have said that the higher education minister Laxmikant Sharma has been in jail for over a year because the mention of "minister" in the excel sheet is inferred to be him. However, the same logic has not been applied though the sheets also mention "chief minister" and "Uma Bhartiji".

Digvijaya Singh claimed that in contrast to rules, only the hard disk of the computer was seized and not the entire computer system itself and that the ‘Hash Value’, which is the sum total of data – actual and deleted, was not taken at the time of the seizure with the hard disk connected to the computer.

Chouhan has admitted that nearly 1,000 persons got job fraudulently through the scam but refuses to bring on record their names or action taken against them. He has also frequently talked about "zero tolerance" on corruption.

The Opposition and some members of the ruling party have often questioned the logic behind the STF-conducted inquiry even while several police officers are accused in the scam and many policemen having been recruited via PEB. Scepticism grows as STF keeps making selective leaks through the media and refuses to go into the cases before 2012 claiming non-availability of earlier records. That the Congress could not even bring about a change in the voters’ perception about the ruling party is a measure of its failure.

The latest thrust in the Congress party’s strategy is said to be at the instance of Rahul Gandhi who wanted a concerted effort to corner the government. The Congress’ has decided to draw a leaf from the Aam Aadmi Party to focus on corruption and spread its influence over the electorate. However, there is always a question mark on the faction leaders pulling together in Madhya Pradesh. The curiosity is over how long can the Congress sustain the campaign in the assembly.

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