Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday denied receiving any favours from Sudhir Sharma, an accused in the Vyapam admission and recruitment scam, as alleged by the Congress. “I vehemently deny taking any favours or tickets from any individual. As a party activist, the party (BJP) usually booked my tickets,” he told PTI.
Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh and Randeep Surjewala said that they had documents to show accused Sudhir Sharma had paid for the tickets of Pradhan and other senior BJP and RSS leaders.
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The Indian Express had reported on July 28, 2013 that an Income Tax investigation report had said that the travel bills of several RSS and BJP leaders, including Suresh Soni and Prabhat Jha, were allegedly footed by mining baron Sharma.
Pradhan said he did know Sharma but had never asked him for tickets. “I never got tickets from anybody,” he said. “All tickets for my party work were booked by the party office. I got no tickets from any individual.”
Meanwhile, the ruling BJD in Odisha demanded his resignation after his name was linked to the main accused in Vyapam scam. BJD spokesman P K Deb told reporters: “We demand Pradhan’s resignation if the… (allegations) are true.” He said Pradhan should cooperate with the CBI investigation into the scam after stepping down from the ministry.