The Vyapam scam rocking the medical community in Madhya Pradesh implicates the Chief Minister in corruption, according to the Indian National Congress – who are calling for him to stand down.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan – who has been Chief Minister since 2005 – is facing heat in the wake of the scandal, which has led to the arrests of 2,000 people since 2012. The scandal involves hundreds of doctors being accused of “mass fraud” over accusations that they cheated their way through admissions tests and medical school – potentially putting patients’ lives at risk.
Students are said to have bribed “politicians, bureaucrats and middlemen” in exchange for their “leaking question papers, rigging answer sheets and hiring.” Many are lamenting that it is students who have suffered the weight of the legal repercussions. Many of those who accepted bribes, they say, are going unpunished.
“An entire nexus of corruption”
In light of this, Chouhan is facing calls to stand down as Chief Minister from political opponents.
Arun Yadav, President of the Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee, was quoted in the Times of India in February as saying “Chief Minister Couhan cannot deny responsibility. He should resign.” This came shortly after a Supreme Court ruling which revoked 634 medical licences in relation to the scandal.
“An entire nexus of corruption” is linked to the scam, according to Yadav. He says this includes “the state government, the medical mafia, middlemen and corrupt officials.” Yadav accuses these parties of “direct involvement.”
Calls for Chouhan’s resignation are intensifying in the wake of a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India. Yadav says the report “[underlines] irregularities in Vyapam” and “made…clear as to who has been patronising and protecting corruption and big scams in the state.” He goes on to reiterate his calls for Chouhan to “resign forthwith.”
Joining calls for the Chief Minister to resign is Ajay Singh, the Leader of the Opposition in the state’s Congress. Singh wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, March 27, advocating for Chouhan’s “immediate removal” from office. Singh says “whether…Chouhan is guilty will be known after a probe”, but argues that the Chief Minister is culpable for “irregularities…during his tenure.”
“No one questioned the Chief Minister”
The Opposition’s objections also included some points about party politics and double standards. Singh expressed incredulity that “in Vyapam scam, no one questioned the Chief Minister.” He noted that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was“served notice for interrogation” during the Coalgate scam, which occurred during Singh’s premiership. The former Prime Minister is a member of Singh’s own party, the Indian National Congress (INC). The INC led a United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government from 2004 to 2014.
Chouhan is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, as is Prime Minister Modi. Yadav was critical of Modi’s role – or lack thereof – in the scandal, accusing him of keeping quiet on the issue
“Why is the BJP’s top leadership, which always stalled functioning of parliament over alleged corruption during UPA regime, tight-lipped now? The same leaders who disrupted parliament during the UPA rule are ministers in the Union government today. Have they nothing to say on the corruption in Madhya Pradesh?” Yadav asked.