Hours after the Special Task Force (STF) filed an FIR against Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav on Tuesday for his alleged role in the examination and recruitment scam, government sources said the Centre has asked him to step down.
According to sources, the decision was taken by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
“We were waiting for a report from the state government on the status of the FIR. When the minister was convinced that he (Yadav) had been named in the case, it was decided to give him a dignified exit. We decided not to take any harsh decision but in the wake of this corruption case, we gave him the option of resigning,” said a senior government official on condition of anonymity.
“The government also has the option of removing a Governor, backed with solid proof and investigations… we have asked him to consider tendering his resignation for the respect of the post,” said the official. Yadav, who was appointed by the UPA government in 2011, was set to complete his term in September 2016.
DSP (STF) D S Baghel told The Indian Express that Yadav has been booked for cheating (Section 420 of the IPC) and under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The action against him came days after the STF submitted his name in a sealed envelope and sought the guidance of the High Court-appointed Special Investigation Team in proceeding against a “high dignitary”.
About a fortnight back, Yadav’s son Shailesh was named in a related chargesheet submitted to a local court. The Governor’s former Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Dhanraj Yadav, was also arrested in April last year in a related offence. However, the octogenarian Congress leader refused to step down despite persistent demands from his own party leaders in Madhya Pradesh, who accused him of being hand in glove with the BJP government.
Following news of the FIR against Yadav, the Congress took to the streets today, with some trying to gherao the Raj Bhawan, demanding that Yadav should quit immediately.
Over the last few days, the Congress has raised the pitch on Yadav’s resignation, mainly because it wants to use it to target Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has been accused of involvement in the scam by the opposition.
There was ruckus in the assembly which was debating the motion of thanks to the Governor’s address. The opposition wanted the government to make a statement in the house on whether an FIR was actually registered against the Governor or not. The Congress MLAs argued that if an FIR had been lodged, there was no point in debating the motion and claimed that the state was staring at a constitutional crisis.
The assembly saw heated exchanges between the treasury benches and the Congress MLAs, especially when Chouhan rose to reply to the debate.
The opposition alleged that if the Governor had been booked on the basis of his name appearing in the documents, the same logic should apply to Chouhan. They claimed that the CM’s name has also been mentioned by the accused. Eventually, the Speaker took a voice vote on the debate and adjourned the assembly till Wednesday.
In his brief speech inside the assembly and outside, Chouhan said the allegations against him were baseless and the Congress had raised it on several occasions in the past. “Himmat hai to suno Shivraj ko, dam hai to suno Shivraj ko,’’ he dared the opposition.
The examination and recruitment scam, which first came to light in July 2013, involves the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), which conducts entrance tests for professional courses and written tests for recruitment to junior level government posts like contractual school teachers, police constables and forest guards.
Investigations revealed that candidates who allegedly paid money to syndicates and MPPEB officials cleared the examinations using different modus operandi. Several leading politicians, mostly belonging to the ruling BJP, are reported to have recommended names of such candidates. The Governor has also been accused of recommending candidates.
Yadav is among the 101 accused, including 87 candidates, against whom the STF has filed an FIR in connection with the forest guard recruitment examination held in 2013.
Among the others who are in jail in connection with the MPPEB scam are former BJP minister Laxmikant Sharma and mining baron Sudhir Sharma who once headed the education cell of the BJP.
Meanwhile, AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh on Wednesday submitted another letter to the SIT giving details of phone numbers (and their IMEI numbers) for analysis and reiterated his previous allegation that the accused were in direct touch with the “CM’s office, CM and CM’s wife.’’