Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia has said the Congress will order a “fast-track” probe into the alleged Vyapam scam and bring to book the guilty once it comes to power in Madhya Pradesh. Scindia is his party’s campaign committee chief for Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, in which the Congress is trying to regain power from the BJP that has ruled the state for the last 15 years.
Elections for 230 assembly seats in the state, which has traditionally seen a direct fight between the two national parties, will take place on November 28. Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, popularly known by the acronym Vyapam (Vyavasayik Pareeksha Mandal), has been at the centre of a massive recruitment scandal, involving alleged bribery and fudging of marks among others.
Central probe agencies like the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate are already probing the scam and have filed multiple charge sheets till now.
Scindia, one of the top Congress leaders in the state who won the Lok Sabha elections in 2014 despite a huge wave in favour of the BJP, alleged the saffron party believed in “outlaws” and rejected allegations that the Congress manifesto talked about banning the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Madhya Pradesh.
“What’s the controversy about it? It (Congress manifesto) does not talk about banning any organisation. Our manifesto very clearly says that according to the rules of government procedure, by which all government servants are governed, you are not allowed to participate in any political outfit’s organisational activity,” Scindia told PTI in an interview during a campiagn tour in his parliamentary constituency of Guna-Shivpuri.
“You can believe in a political outfit, there is no pratibandh (ban) or bar from believing in it but as a government servant you certainly can’t participate and that’s part of our Constitution,” he said.
“Whatever is a rule is a rule. So why is the BJP getting all worked up about it? The difference between BJP and us is that we follow the law. They don’t and so when the law is being enforced they have a problem because they believe in outlaws,” the 47-year-old politician said.
The Congress manifesto says “the holding of RSS shakhas in government premises would be banned and the order regarding relaxation given to public servants to attend them will be revoked”.
The Congress government had banned RSS activities in government premises in Madhya Pradesh in 1981. The ban was later revived in 2000 by then chief minister Digvijaya Singh under the Civil Services Conduct Rule.
Asked about the issues that needed to be addressed on priority if Congress wins, Scindia said justice in the Vyapam scam needs to be ensured.
“We will abolish Vyapam first of all and set up a new board. Nearly 2,000 students are in jail, 35 cases are ongoing and 28 people have died till now. We are going to make sure that a fast track enquiry takes places and will bring to book those who are guilty,” said the Congress leader, tipped to be a front-runner for the chief ministerial candidate of his party.
In its 112-page manifesto, the Congress has said it would disband the board if it comes to power in the state and replace it with a “Rajya Karmachari Chayan Aayog” to ensure transparent recruitments and a corruption-free system.
Scindia said his party will address the issue of unemployment and provide subsidy to businesses to provide jobs to youth of the state.
“The idea to put these things in our manifesto is that those who have been left out and are not part of economic mainstream of India can now become part of the economic mainstream — whether it is a farmer who is reeling under the burden of loan or a youngster who has not been able to get a job under Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s 15 year of ‘bemisaal’ (unparalleled) government even though he is educated,” he said.
Scindia said it is the job of the government to help an unemployed person and therefore his party has proposed Rs 10,000 as subsidy to any corporate who gives job to a person in the state. The party has also promised Rs 4,000 stipend to any youth pursuing education for a period of 3 years.
Asked about his party giving tickets to turncoats just before polls, Scindia said there were only a few such cases.
“If you believe in the philosophy and values of my party you are welcome and that is based on two points. One, you join unconditionally and the other is that you join the party and get a ticket. The later one has to be an exception and the former has to be the rule. That is what we have adopted,” he said.
The Congress leader said just 8-9 such candidates, who account for just about 3 per cent, have got the Congress ticket out of total 230 seats and all others have joined the party unconditionally.
Scindia said the number of leaders who left the BJP in the state before the polls was “astounding and was a sign that people are fleeing the sinking ship.”
On the other hand, only 2-3 people have left the Congress, he added.
The former union minister refused to talk about a possible post-poll alliance with the BSP to form a government in the state, saying such things are “conjectures” at the moment.
“I am very confident that we will form government in Madhya Pradesh on our own strength,” he said.
The BJP had won 165 seats in the 2013 elections with 44.88 per cent votes, while the Congress had got only 58 seats with 42.67 per cent votes.