Curious case of Raghavji
Posted August 13, 2013on:
Miasma shrouds the episode involving former Madhya Pradesh finance minister Raghavji. It is unlikely that it will ever be lifted.
Raghavji’s domestic help files a complaint at Habibganj police station in Bhopal accusing Raghavji of having sodomised him over a long period with the promise of a government job. He also submits a compact disc (CD) in evidence. Raghavji is asked by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan to resign from the cabinet immediately and the resignation letter is promptly submitted to the Governor for acceptance. An FIR is registered two days later in the police station. He is expelled from the primary membership of the BJP. He is arrested, sent to judicial custody and his bail plea opposed and rejected. All accomplished at a record speed within a week — between July 5 and 12.
That’s not all. The 79-year-old former minister, suffering from a host of ailments, is treated like a dreaded criminal. He is not allowed to pick up his medicines when he is taken away by the police from a relative’s flat at Koh-e-Fiza locality. Lodged at the central jail under judicial custody, he complains of weak digestion and asks for khichdi in the evening but is denied. Then mind, he is not yet convicted, not even charge-sheeted or under trial, but only detained till the police complete their investigation and prepare the charge-sheet. Apparently, someone wielding power in the government must be acting with vengeance.
Still more: it’s only a week after registering the FIR and taking Raghavji into custody that the police wonder about the authenticity of the CD and send it to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CSFL) in Hyderabad for examination.
A CD showing Raghavji in a compromising position with a woman was reported two years ago also but the chief minister had got the whole thing suppressed before the CD could reach the hands of a Congress leader. The person behind the preparation of the CD had shown it to the Congress leader and promised him a copy. The Congress leader had in his enthusiasm told media persons at Vidisha, Raghavji’s home town and Assembly constituency, that he would throw a bombshell in the next few days. The CD and the man behind it were promptly taken care of by the chief minister. Why did the CM act differently now?
Several theories are being floated for the downfall of Raghavji, who is one of the oldest activists of the Sangh Parivar. He had joined the RSS during his student days, was associated with the efforts to build up Jana Sangh in Madhya Bharat (roughly the Malwa region of present Madhya Pradesh) in the early 1950s, has held important positions in the organisation, represented the party both in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, and had been finance minister since 2003 when the BJP came to power. Earlier this year he presented the tenth annual budget estimates in a row.
Some in the ruling party blame the liquor lobby for working against Raghavji (he held the excise portfolio also). That, prima facie, is aimed at diverting the attention. First, no other excise minister has pampered the liquor lobby as Raghavji has done; how he had been mismanaging the excise revenue to benefit those engaged in liquor trade is chronicled by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in his reports. Secondly, if under pressure from the liquor lobby or any other group of vested interests, the CM had the option to change Raghavji’s portfolio.
Another theory doing the rounds is that the CM himself is behind Raghavji’s disgrace. When Chauhan became CM in 2005, he was a member of Lok Sabha from Vidisha. He wanted to field his wife Sadhna Singh in the by-election caused by his resignation to contest for the Assembly. However, Sushma Swaraj jumped in and he had to comply with the party’s wishes to leave the Vidisha Lok Sabha seat for her. Now he is said to be planning to field his wife for the Assembly from Vidisha seat which is at present held by Raghavji. This, too, is not very convincing because Raghavji has for some time been saying that he may not be contesting the next Assembly election. Besides, on learning of the presence of the CD, Chauhan could have quietly asked Raghavji to resign (possibly on health grounds) and asked him to lie low for some time. This could have saved the embarrassment to the party as well as to him.
Yet another theory being floated is about the conspiracy to embarrass the CM himself on the eve of the Assembly elections (due by November). A day after Raghavji’s domestic help went to the police station with the CD, BJP leader Shivshankar Pateria told media persons that he had prepared the CD submitted by the domestic help to the police. He also claimed that he had prepared 22 CDs of Raghavji sodomising his domestic help. Once a close associate of Uma Bharti, Pateria had, after Uma’s expulsion from the BJP, become quite friendly with several party leaders, Raghavji included. In all probability, Pateria is merely a front. He has since been suspended from the party (not expelled like Raghavji).
The suspicion lies with a combination of powerful party functionaries, one set having grudge against Raghavji because of local politics of Vidisha district and the other trying to settle score with the CM for some hurt. This speaks for the clout of the cabal that the whole thing was so thrust upon Chauhan that he was forced to act in panic (he always acts in panic when faced with a crisis situation). Raghavji has also hinted at a conspiracy within the BJP. The moot point is: will he speak out, or more importantly, will he be allowed to? Apparently, this was not the only skeleton in his cupboard.
(Raghavji was granted bail by the Madhya Pradesh High Court on August 12, 34 days after his incarceration)