Madhya Pradesh ministers contesting polls face criminal chargesNovember 14th, 2008 - 11:50 am ICT by IANS
Bhopal, Nov 14 (IANS) At least eight Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers of the outgoing Madhya Pradesh government who face criminal charges are contesting the forthcoming assembly elections. The list includes Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.Other ministers in the fray, who are facing criminal charges, include Tourism Minister Tukoji Rao Puar, Revenue Minister Kamal Patel, Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya, Public Health Engineering (PHE) Minister Chaudhary Chandrabhan Singh, Education Minister Narottam Mishra, Minister of State for Fisheries Moti Kashyap and Forest Minister Vijay Shah.
The list also includes former health minister Ajay Vishnoi. Cases against some of these ministers are pending with the state government’s ombudsman, called the Lokayukta.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been accused in the June 2007 dumper purchase case of favouring a business house in return for personal favours. Four dumpers were bought by a business house, allegedly in the name of Chouhan’s wife Sadhna Singh. Later, she reportedly sold it back to the same company.
It was alleged that Sadhna Singh mentioned her husband’s name as S.R. Singh, instead of Shivraj Singh Chouhan. She also reportedly said she was a resident of Jaypee Nagar, Rewa, though neither the chief minister nor his wife has a house in Rewa. The case is now pending with the Lokayukta.
In the case of PWD Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) of India had made several corruption charges, including fraudulent spending of several millions of rupees on the Simhast Mela in 2004.
Another charge against him pertains to the period when he was mayor of Indore. Now known as the pension scam, it was alleged that pensions were disbursed to non-existent beneficiaries. A commission constituted by the state government is looking into the matter.
Revenue Minister Kamal Patel is under the scanner for the alleged misdeeds of his son. There are allegations against his son of murder of a Congress leader’s son and the Madhya Pradesh High Court Tuesday ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the matter.
Patel has also been charged with amassing wealth and landed property in and around Harda district. A public interest petition raising these issues is pending in the Jabalpur High Court.
Similarly, PHE minister Chaudhary Chandrabhan Singh is under a cloud for acquiring property in his constituency Chhindwara by allegedly misusing his position.
Education Minister Narottam Mishra and Minister of State for Fisheries Moti Kashyap face charges of misuse of power and funds by awarding government contracts to their kith and kin. Forest Minister Vijay Shah is under the scanner for alleged bungling in the department during his tenure. Their cases are being looked into by the Lokayukta.
Irrigation Minister Anup Mishra, who is a nephew of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, has been accused of taking a helicopter from a renowned company on a rent of Rs 75,000 an hour for his family members at the cost of the state exchequer.
Ajay Vishnoi had to resign from his post as health minister following income-tax raids on his relatives. He was accused of being involved in the state’s biggest-ever medicine scam under which medicines meant for hospital supply were purchased at a price much higher than the market rate.
The BJP, which announced that it will give tickets only to people with a clean slate, has refused to accept that the incidents could bring any embarrassment to the party. “I don’t think it is embarrassing,” party vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told IANS in New Delhi.
“We are not shielding anyone for any criminal activity and if the charges are proved, we would not protect them. But as of now, they will contest on the party ticket.”