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Is Narendra Modi Embarrassed Over BJP's Shame?
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Finally, the heat of Vyapam scandal has reached Delhi and fuelled Bharatiya Janata Party's fears of the Opposition uniting against the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government ahead of Parliament's monsoon session in a way it could not in the Lalitgate controversy. The United Progressive Alliance-era's multi-crore scams such as 2G and Coalgate didn't see mysterious deaths like Vyapam. It can't be a coincidence that more than 40 people with association to Vyapam have died in strange conditions over the last few years.
Misfortunes never come alone. That perhaps explains why several scandals have surfaced almost simultaneously to haunt Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Vyapam is turning out to be far more sinister, undermining Narendra Modi's pledge of ensuring corruption-free India. At present, few still question Narendra Modi's honesty. But then, former prime minister Manmohan Singh too was widely regarded as an honest politician. That did nothing to change the public perception that he presided over a corrupt regime.
Given the magnitude of the scandal and the large number of scam-related deaths, maybe it is time the Supreme Court took over the case. Probably, the credibility of state investigating agencies is questionable. The scenario is fast changing and it appears that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan does not trust the Central Bureau of Investigation that operates under his own party's government at the Centre. It has not gone unnoticed that the BJP top leadership has not defended Chouhan as it did the two other senior leaders in trouble - Vasundhara Raje and Sushma Swaraj. In order to fast track the case and remove doubts of bias, the probe needs to be handed over to central agencies such as CBI and supervised by the apex court.
The Narendra Modi government cannot wash its hands of the deadly goings-on in Madhya Pradesh. The Prime Minister silence over the affairs involving Swaraj and Vasundhra Raje has damaged his image. If he now fails to act on the Vyapam scandal, his promise of change will start sounding hollow.
The scam makes a complete mockery of the principle of fairness, honesty and justice —without which institutions cannot survive. From all accounts, the Vyapam scam is being engineered by powerful people or groups whose stakes are so deep they will do anything to see that the kingpins are never traced.
India has had a long record of scams — and a few unexplained, mysterious deaths of people with close links to the people behind those shenanigans. In the late Nineties, the bizarre deaths of seven animal husbandry department employees and others connected with the Rs 950-crore fodder scam have caused alarm in Bihar. If there was a foul play, it can be traced back to September 1996, when a vehicle transporting some of the accused in the fodder scam was fired upon by some unidentified persons in Patna. No one was injured in the firing. The opposition alleged that the victims might had explosive information about the scam and about the high-profile people involved in it. In 2103, Rashtriya Janata Dal boss Lalu Prasad, former Bihar Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra and 43 others were convicted by a special CBI court in the fodder scam case.
There is a school of thought that says that those involved in the controversies — Swaraj, Raje and Chouhan — were in the Lal Krishna Advani camp that resisted Modi's ascendency to power. Any action against them could unite all his detractors, including members of the Margdarshan Mandal comprising senior leaders like Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. And the Prime Minister would like to avoid this before the crucial Bihar Assembly polls. At this juncture, the BJP could have also opted for removing Chouhan but finds itself in a bind after having taken the stand of not seeking the resignations of Sushma or Raje in the Lalit controversy.