SENIOR BJP leader and former minister, Laxmikant Sharma (60), who was arrested in connection with the infamous Vyapam scam succumbed to Covid-19 late on Monday night. Sharma was admitted to Bhopal’s Chirayu hospital with mild Covid symptoms but after undergoing treatment for over 20 days, he succumbed to the virus on May 31 at 10:15 pm. He was cremated with state honours in Sironj early on Tuesday.
Sharma’s death was condoled by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. “Heard the sad news of the demise of former minister and senior BJP leader, Laxmikant Sharma. I pray to God to give peace to the departed soul and strength to the family to bear the loss,” he tweeted.
Sharma’s death has once again brought to the fore the infamous Vyapam scam for which he was arrested in June 2014 from his residence in Bhopal along with 87 others. He was finally given a clean chit by the CBI in January 2019.
Following his arrest in 2014, Sharma in many interactions with media had been spoken of as being made a scapegoat.
Speaking to the Indian Express, Congress MP, Vivek Tankha said that he remembers the morning when Laxmikant had come over to meet him at his residence in Delhi in the wake of the Vyapam scam in 2014. “Sharma told me that he did what he was being asked to do and that now he was being made a scapegoat.”
A day after meeting Tankha, Laxmikant surrendered to the SIT in Bhopal. “I asked him to surrender. Subsequently, his bail plea was opposed by the state twice and it finally took him over two years to secure his bail. Laxmikant’s going away has buried a lot of secrets with him,” added Tankha.
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson, KK Mishra demanded a CBI inquiry into Sharma’s death stating that as per protocols, hospitals do not hand over the bodies post 6 pm, but Sharma’s body was handed over at midnight and cremated in the morning in Sironj.
“Sharma along with three others had tested positive for Covid, while the two recovered, Sharma who had gone to the hospital smiling has died. It isn’t a simple death. Sharma had also pointed out that he is just a pawn in the Vyapam scam,” he said.
Dr Ajay Goenka, Chairman of Chirayu hospital where Sharma was brought in on May 11 with fever and mild lung infection said that Sharma was given doses of remdesivir along with other medicines but after four days of treatment his condition began deteriorating.
He developed fever again while his oxygen saturation began dropping and he subsequently developed bi-lateral Covid pneumonia. He was finally put on a ventilator as his oxygen saturation level was dropping continuously. “He was given 2DG medicines by making some arrangements from Delhi but he never responded to these medicines. But he never responded to these medicines and finally landed into severe pneumonia with hypoxemic respiratory failure,” said Dr Goenka.
With no history of diabetes and mild hypertension, efforts were being made to shift Sharma for ECHO support to either Hyderabad or Madar after he had tested negative twice for Covid during his treatment. “A team from Yashodha Hospital had reached Bhopal before his demise but it was not possible to airlift him under his condition. He succumbed before the necessary arrangements could be done,” added Dr Goenka.
Sharma who hailed from a modest background in Vidisha’s Sironj first became an MLA from there in 1993. He was re-elected in 1998, 2003 and 2008 becoming a four-time MLA and first became a minister under Uma Bharti led-BJP government.