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Trust deficit

MP CM agrees to a CBI probe into Vyapam. Though belated, it could help his government regain some credibility.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: July 8, 2015 4:27:17 am
Vyapam Scam, Vyapam scam deaths, Vyapam deaths, Vyapam accused deaths, Vyapam scam journalist death, Akshay singh, Akshay singh death, Vyapam whistleblower, Vyapam deaths probe, Vyapam scam CBI enquiry, MP government, Madhya Pradesh Government , Supreme Court, Shivraj singh Chouhan, Uma Bharati, Madhya Pradesh news, Vyapam news, India news, latest news, top stories, indian express MP Chief Minister Sivraj Singh Chouahn agrees to a CBI probe into Vyapam. Though belated, it could help his government regain some credibility.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s request to the high court to order a CBI probe into the Vyapam scam is a step in the right direction. He had for long stalled the Congress’s demand to call in the CBI, claiming that only the high court could do so, since the special investigation team probing the scam was constituted under its directive in 2013, and reported to it. Chouhan’s plea to the high court comes at a time when the Supreme Court is set to hear a clutch of petitions on July 9.

Chouhan was left with little choice but to acquiesce to the demand for a CBI probe after the spate of deaths of people linked to Vyapam — an accused, a witness and even a journalist probing the case — in the past few days. The unusually high mortality number — from 25 suspicious deaths according to state officials, to 45 according to activists — has spooked many. Doubts have been raised about the intentions of the state government. Its initial reluctance to protect whistleblowers even after they complained of death threats did not help. The statement by Uma Bharti, a cabinet minister at the Centre and a former MP CM, on Monday that she feared for the lives of 17 people whom she had allegedly recommended for employment is revealing. If Chouhan’s government does not inspire confidence even among BJP leaders, if it has lost the perception war, it can only blame itself. Since the scam hit the headlines in 2009, the state government has done little to convince people of its commitment to nailing the guilty. Though it admitted to impersonation, copying and forgery in examinations and recruitment processes conducted by Vyapam, the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board, the government played down the scale of the scam and the complicity of the highest public officials. As investigations proceeded, the governor’s office was implicated in the scam and the opposition even accused Chouhan’s family of involvement. Though nearly 2,000 people, including a state minister, have been arrested, the government has lost face.

Vyapam could scar Chouhan’s reputation as an administrator and hurt his political future. A probe by an independent agency at arm’s length would help clear the air. The CM should also rein in colleagues like his home minister, Babulal Gaur, who has a tendency to turn philosophical — and insensitive — about death at the most inappropriate moments. As Chouhan said at his press meet on Tuesday, a ruler ought to be above suspicion. The challenge before him, and the BJP, is to win back public trust. The CBI probe could be the first step in a long and difficult journey.

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