BJP in Congress line of fire over Kushwaha as CBI raids premises (Third Lead)

January 4th, 2012 - 8:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Bahujan Samaj Party Lucknow/New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) A day after inducting a tainted former Uttar Pradesh minister into its fold, the BJP was Wednesday at the receiving end on the issue of corruption, with the Congress saying the party stood exposed in its commitment to fight graft.

Sacked Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Babu Singh Kushwaha was Tuesday inducted into the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The war of words between the Congress and BJP came as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Wednesday searched the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh premises of Kushwaha for his alleged involvement in a multi-crore rural health scam.

The searches, which the BJP termed as politically motivated, were conducted in connection with alleged financial irregularities in the supply of medicines and medical equipment in the Rs.10,000 crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam in Uttar Pradesh.

“Searches were conducted in 60 locations across Uttar Pradesh and Delhi,” a CBI spokesperson said. The CBI registered five new cases Monday in connection with irregularities in the Uttar Pradesh health scam.

Kushwaha, a prominent OBC leader and once a trusted lieutenant of Chief Minister Mayawati, was removed as family welfare minister in April following his alleged involvement in the embezzlement. He was sacked from the BSP in November.

Justifying Kushwaha’s induction, BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters in New Delhi that the timing of the CBI search operation was suspect.

“The BJP is not a shield for corrupt people. But the CBI raids seem motivated. Why did the CBI take so long for carrying out searches,” Naqvi told reporters.

BJP state chief Surya Pratap Shahi, who got Kushwaha into the party said “we will defend our decision” to induct him. “Well it is quite evident that the CBI was guided by the central government that is why it was doing selective targeting.”

Other BJP leaders like Vinay Katiyar and Ananth Kumar also supported Kushwaha, saying the law will take its own course against him.

The BJP also said it would not give Kushwaha a ticket for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

“If he is found guilt then we will not be with him. We have not taken him to fight election. We will not give him the ticket,” Katiyar said.

Kumar said: “Kushwaha is one of the strongest leaders of the OBC in Uttar Pradesh. BJP is getting stronger day by day.”

The Congress slammed the BJP for welcoming the tainted politician in its fold, saying the opposition party now stood exposed on its commitment to fight corruption.

“(The BJP) is inducting such corrupt people into the party. This shows how much commitment the party has in fighting corruption in the country,” Congress’ Rashid Alvi told reporters.

In Delhi, CBI sources said many houses and commercial establishments owned by Kushwaha and his associates, including legislator Ram Chandra Pradhan, were searched in 12 districts, including Lucknow, Kanpur, Moradabad, Agra and Ghaziabad.

The residence and offices of the owners of the recently floated Hindi daily Jan Sandesh in a 12,000 sq ft premises in Lucknow’s Hazratganj were also searched.

The sources said the CBI was inquiring into implementation of the scheme and utilisation of funds since its launch in 2005-06.

The funds under the health scheme were allocated to the state by the union health ministry and have been spent through medical officers of 72 districts of the state.

The sources said Kushwaha’s ‘benami’ properties in Mumbai were also under the CBI scanner.

The CBI is also investigating the mysterious deaths of three chief medical officers who were closely linked with implementation of the scheme.

Kushwaha has been named as an accused in one of the five FIRs. The charges include those of criminal misconduct and misuse of office in implementing the scheme.

The tainted politician enjoys a large clout among the Kushwaha community in the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

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