Till yesterday you were adamant that since the Special Task Force (STF) probing the Vyapam Scam was doing a good job, there was no need for handing over the probe to the CBI. What has changed in last 24 hours?
The STF has been doing a good job, the High Court-monitored SIT is also doing a good job. But, before that I wish to clarify that I was the one who ordered a thorough probe into the Vyapam issue. A small matter concerning irregularities in PMT admission test had come to light and preliminary probe pointed to a deeper malaise. I couldn’t sit back and not do anything since I had introduced a transparent system as the previous Congress governments had done nothing. I thought rather than hand over investigation to police, it should be given to the STF, which would have done it better. Without going into too many details, I can say that the STF unearthed lot of irregularities after which some people went to High Court for a CBI probe. The HC refused the plea but ordered court monitoring of the investigation through SIT. Even the Supreme Court refused to order a CBI probe, pointing out that the STF was doing a good job. How could I have gone against the views of the High Court of the land? The scale of investigation is unprecedented.
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So why go to the CBI now?
In the last two days, an atmosphere of falsehood has been created that would have eventually affected the well-being of the state, which has emerged as the best performing state in the last one decade…I felt a wrong impression was being created about the state, a wrong perception, which would have been difficult to correct merely by saying that a fair investigation is being conducted. We are in a democracy and in a democratic set up, perception matters a lot and the conduct of the ruler, who is actually the servant of the public, must be above any criticism or questions. This is necessary if he has to work with full authority. I don’t want to lose even a minute. That is why I came to the conclusion that the questions that have cropped up require a CBI probe. That is why I have written to the HC today, requesting that the investigation be handed over to the CBI.
Do you think you were losing the battle of perception due to the large number of deaths in last few days?
I said yesterday also that it’s wrong to link every death to Vyapam. But once deaths started happening one after another, especially Akshay Singh (the Aaj Tak reporter who died last week while investigating the scam), a feeling gained ground that there was something suspicious in the deaths. I felt that all this needs to be cleared and only a CBI probe can clear it.
Why hasn’t the Centre come out in your support? Only Home Minister Rajnath Singh made a statement yesterday that CBI inquiry could only be ordered by the court.
I have the support and affection of the entire Central leadership. So far, there has been no statement because they knew that a thorough probe was on, something that had received the backing of the Supreme Court and the High Court. Our spokespersons, even in Delhi, have been putting across the party view with full force. Nothing more was required.
Your comments on whether anything more should be read into the fact that three of the tallest anti-Narendra Modi camp leaders, including two powerful CMs — you Vasundhara Raje — are suddenly mired in serious controversies, almost at the same time? It can’t be a coincidence?
Even to think like this is sacrilege for me. We have full faith in the leadership of our Prime Minister Narendra Modiji, who has emerged as a global leader. Our national president Amit Shah is so worried about me that we have been talking almost on a daily basis. They don’t even want the perception to gain ground that there’s something wrong in the state. Entire leadership is standing solidly with me and that is why we are proud of them.
Why is Union Minister Uma Bharati upset with you?
Uma Bharatiji is my sister and I have deep respect for her. In a democracy everyone has the right to speak and she has always been known to speak her mind.
Does she really face a threat to her life in Madhya Pradesh, something that she claimed yesterday?
There is no question of any such thing happening. We are regularly in touch.
The Opposition questions the STF probe saying the officers report to you. Have you received any reports from STF about the probe’s progress?
STF doesn’t report to me. Ever since the High Court decided to monitor the investigation, the STF reports directly to it. Since the day that order was passed I have not spoken to anyone in the STF. I am a person who follows decorum in public life. If HC has passed an order, it is my duty to follow it. I have no idea what the STF is doing.
Has the fact that your wife’s name has been linked to the scam hurt your image?
There is no question of any loss. Loss would certainly have been caused if there was any truth in the case. It is all courtesy the discredited Congress leaders, who have lost election after election. Even in the recent bypolls, we won. People (Congress leaders) thought ruling was their birth right only because they were raja, maharaja or big…I was a nobody, I come from a average family. Their big complaint is that a person like me has become CM for the third time.. Since they can’t win elections, they are dragging in my wife who is a housewife. This is not the first time they have leveled baseless allegations against her. But, each such allegation has turned out to be false. The public is not unaware. We will give them (Congress leaders) a proper reply.
But, your wife’s name does find a mention in the excel sheet in the possession of the whistleblower?
It is a forged document. The truth has already come out. Even the HC had commented on it. Every time such forged documents are used by them, their (Congress leaders) own credibility goes down a little more.
Has Digvijaya Singh challenged you to file a case if the documents are forged?
Law will take its course.
Now that there is a likelihood of the CBI taking over the probe, what do you expect?
My belief is that whatever there was to unearth, the STF has already done it. I don’t think CBI will be able to do much. But who am I to comment on what the CBI will do. Time will tell.