Sting operation embarrasses Chhattisgarh’s ruling BJP

April 14th, 2008 - 5:29 pm ICT by admin  

Raipur, April 14 (IANS) With barely seven months to go before the state’s legislative assembly elections, Chhattisgarh’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stands embarrassed as one of its senior leaders has been forced to resign as chairman of a government-owned organisation after he was caught on camera accepting bribe. Chief Minister Raman Singh Monday accepted the resignation of Kriparam Sahu, an influential leader of the other backward classes (OBC), as chairman of the Khadi Gramodhyog Board.

He had also served as minister in undivided Madhya Pradesh’s BJP government led by Sundarlal Patwa.

Sahu was caught on camera late last week in a sting operation carried out by a regional news channel. He was seen accepting Rs.2,500 in cash for revoking an official’s suspension.

Initially, Sahu blamed his political opponents for “trapping” him but then he gave up and put in papers Sunday.

The channel also showed Sahu offering a bribe of Rs.25,000 to it for spiking the report and dropping the sting telecast.

The episode has affected the morale of the BJP rank in the state as the party is preparing for the assembly polls due in November, projecting itself as a crusader against corruption and as champion of development.

“The bribery episode has shocked us. Though it will not have much impact on the party’s bid to retain power, for the time being it has surely left us red-faced,” a senior BJP leader who refused to be identified told IANS.

But BJP state unit spokesperson Saroj Pandey said: “I will not comment right now. The party will take up the issue at the higher level shortly.”

BJP sources say the party may consider suspending Sahu.

The faction-ridden opposition Congress has now an advantage.

“Sahu is a small fish. The entire BJP government is mired in scandals and corruption cases since it started the term in December 2003,” Congress state spokesman Ramesh Warlyani told reporters.

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