The Kerala BJP on Thursday dropped its leader R S Vinod from primary membership after it felt that the allegation of bribe taking against him could damage the party’s anti-corruption image. A probe from within the BJP had concluded that Vinod, the party’s cooperative cell state convener, had taken a bribe of Rs 5.6 crore from the owner of a private medical college and promised it recognition from the Medical Council of India (MCI).
Earlier in the day, state BJP chief K Rajasekharan had played down the issue, saying media reports on the matter were exaggerated and the party had no connection with the allegations. But when the issue started putting leaders on the defensive, the BJP cracked the whip on Vinod, who said the investigation report by the party was “fabricated”. Rajasekharan said Vinod was sacked from the party as the allegations against him were serious and had impaired the anti-corruption image of the BJP. The party central leadership should conduct a probe into the charges, he said.
The CPI(M)-led state government has ordered a probe into the bribery charge, acting on a complaint of a former councillor of the Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala had written to the Chief Minister, demanding a CBI probe. The internal probe report by BJP leaders K P Sreesan and A K Nazeer, now out in the media, had said it had found that Vinod had taken Rs 5.60 crore from R Shaji, the owner of the medical college to be paid to MCI authorities in Delhi through a middleman.
Quoting the statement of Shaji, the probe report stated that another private medical college owner had paid Rs 5 crore to a middleman in Delhi through party state general secretary M T Ramesh to get MCI sanction for his college too.
Ramesh, however, told the media that he hadn’t intervened in the case of any private medical college in Kerala. “When the persons connected with the medical college in Palakkad met me about MCI recognition, I told them outright that I cannot intervene in the issue. I haven’t demanded money from anyone,’’ he said.
Vinod said he hadn’t confessed to Sreesan and Nazeer that he took money from the owner of any medical college. “It was a report fabricated by the probe team. Sreesan wanted me to mention Ramesh in the bribery allegation. They (Sreesan and Nazeer) were behind raising the false allegations. They advised me to name Ramesh in the bribery allegation. I don’t know whether any other senior leader was behind the drama,” he said.
He said Sreesan should show his original, handwritten statement given to the probe team. The report, scripted by Sreesan, was part of groupism in the party, Vinod said. Despite repeated attempts, Sreesan was not available for comment.