The Congress today sought a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the alleged multi-crore NGO fraud in Bihar, and asked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy, Sushil Modi, to step down. The opposition party also demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP to come clear if any union minister was allegedly involved in the scam. The Congress though chose to not name the any minister. Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari also demanded that it should be probed if the Srijan and Madhya Pradesh’s Vyapam scams are “connected in any manner”, given that the principal accused in both the cases were allegedly killed. A key arrested accused in the alleged NGO fraud, Mahesh Mandal, died earlier this month of illness, the Bihar police had said on August 21.
The Congress and also the RJD have raised questions over the circumstances in which Mandal died. According to the Congress, Srijan scam is about transfer of government funds to an NGO Srijan Mahila Sahyog Samiti in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district. The NGO used to earn a high rate of interest on the government funds while keeping the principal amount intact. It is estimated to be well over 1000 crore, it alleged. Kumar had on August 17 recommended a CBI probe into alleged swindling of government money by the NGO. He has also asserted that the “culprits will be traced even from ‘patal’ (beneath the earth)” and nobody will be spared.
“Nitish Kumar has been the chief minister during the period when the scam occurred and Sushil Modi was his finance minister for a long time during the span concerned. “Their involvement in the scam cannot be ruled out. To ensure a fair probe, it is required they resign from their respective posts immediately,” Tewari told reporters here. Another Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar, who accompanied Tewari during the briefing, said the scam would not have occurred without orders from Kumar and his deputy. Tewari, however, said such a probe will be an “eyewash” as there cannot be a fair investigation by the “communal bureau of investigation”, which the government allegedly uses to harass its political opponents and give clean cheat to its allies.
“This is an extremely serious issue and we demand the court takes suo moto cognisance of the Vyapam deaths, Srijan deaths, the deaths which have occurred in various such cases and order a court-monitored investigation,” he said. The Congress said the NGO was headed by Manorama Devi and that it is suspected she was “well connected” within the BJP and people close to Kumar. “So it won’t be unfair to say that BJP is directly involved in this,” it said in a statement. To a question whether the Congress was aware of the scam when it was in power in the state with the JD(U) and the RJD and if yes, why it did not talk about it, Tewari rebutted the same and said the party was “not privy to it”.
Tewari also demanded Kumar to come clear whether the Srijan scam and possible probe into the matter was a “determining factor/the trigger” in his decision to join the NDA. Deputy chief minister Modi had said that the first hint of the NGO’s illegal activity had surfaced in 2002 and 2003 when the RJD was ruling Bihar. On Lalu Prasad’s demand for a CBI probe under supervision of the Supreme Court, Modi, who is the finance minister of Bihar, said, “If the court thinks so we have no problem.” State police chief P K Thakur had said that investigators had so far detected Rs 870.88 crore in the scam, in which 18 accused were arrested.