Posts Tagged ‘Sadhna Singh Chauhan’
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)
The Income Tax Department raids on the establishments of Dilip Suryavanshi and Sudhir Sharma spread over several cities in and out of Madhya Pradesh is the worst thing that could have happened to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and, in particular, to Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. According to the tit-bits leaked out to the media, the raids have yielded much more than cash and jewellery and papers of land ownership. If the Central government does not enter into a deal somewhere on the way, as it had done in the past with Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav and others, the recoveries can expose the darkest aspects of our democracy.
For instance, official note sheets pertaining to the transfers of senior bureaucrats and files of sensitive construction projects have been found in the papers of Suryavanshi. This, though, has not come as a surprise to those who have been keeping a watch on the functioning of the Chauhan government. When Chauhan became chief minister in late 2005, the charge of the government had, for all practical purpose, passed on to the chief minister’s wife Sadhna Singh Chauhan and Dilip Suryavanshi, then a mere contractor. Today he is The Contractor with a control over all the legal and illegal construction works as well as the mining activities in the State. Babulal Gaur, the seniormost member of the Chauhan cabinet had some time back described Suryavanshi as the biggest contractor with a turnover of Rs 2000 crore. Today Suryavanshi is said to be worth Rs 5000 crore. The combined turnover of Suryavanshi and Sudhir Sharma is said to exceed Rs 9000 crore.
It was said that the lists of IAS and IPS officers for posting at key positions were prepared by Sadhna Singh and Suryavanshi with the help of a trusted middle-rung IAS officer and the chief minister was then called to Suryavanshi’s mansion to put in his signature. The practice had become so scandalous that some senior BJP leaders were said to have drawn the attention of Lal Krishna Advani (then BJP president) towards this and the latter had taken Chauhan to task. The practice was then slightly changed; Suryavanshi would then go to the chief minister’s residence and he and Sadhna Singh would prepare the lists. At some stage, Sadhna Singh’s brother Sanjay Singh was said to have been involved in the process.
This was all in the realm of hearsay so far. The recovery of the confidential government note sheets and files in the possession of a private person with business interests in the government works amounts to the most glaring breach of the provisions of the Constitution.
College lecturer Sudhir Sharma was the ‘find’ of culture and public relations minister Laxmikant Sharma who held mining department during Chauhan’s first tenure. The minister was overawed by the enormity of the wealth that could be siphoned off from the mining operations. As the things started getting hot for him, he gradually inducted Sudhir Sharma as his proxy into the mining operations. The affinity between Laxmikant Sharma and Sudhir Sharma can be gauged from the fact that the Income Tax Department recovered from Sudhir Sharma’s residence an Italian pistol while the licence of the pistol is in the name of Laxmikant Sharma.
Sudhir Sharma in no time ganged up with Dilip Suryavanshi, the bigger operator. Chauhan made S K Mishra secretary to the mining department (as well as secretary to the chief minister) and placed him at their disposal. As Collector of Sehore, S K Mishra was appointed Returning Officer for Budhni by-election from where Chauhan contested and entered the Assembly after becoming the chief minister. (He was a member of Lok Sabha when appointed chief minister). Mishra had so much displeased the Election Commission by his partisan behaviour during the by-election that the Commission was constrained to order his immediate removal. This was perhaps the first case in the country when a Returning Officer had to be removed for wrong doing just a few days before the polling. This, though, paid dividends to the offending Sehore Collector. As soon as the model code period was over, he was made Collector of Bhopal (a highly coveted posting) and appointed soon afterwards secretary to the chief minister, later made mining secretary as well as secretary to the chief minister. Mishra was removed from this post following the countrywide outrage at the trampling down of IPS officer Narendra Kumar Singh under the wheels of a tractor trolley transporting illegally mined stones in Morena district. (Narendra Kumar Singh’s father has pointed out serious flaws in the CBI investigation of the case and moved the court seeking a fresh investigation).
On the basis of the papers recovered from Dilip Suryavanshi’s mansion ( the reports said that the recovered documents were carried in 20 trunks), the Income Tax Department carried raids on the residence of Harish Singh, a long-time associate of Shivraj Singh Chauhan and now his private secretary. Harish Singh’s disproportionate assets apart, some documents recovered from his residence may reportedly lead the investigators direct to the doorsteps of Shivraj Singh Chauhan.
The Income Tax investigators have found evidence of foreign exchange regulation violations also. They are collating what they have found with the assistance of Enforcement Directorate. What must be causing worry to the top party leadership is that a substantial part of the loot was flowing into the coffers of the party leaders in Delhi. The Rs 250-crore worldwide internet prime ministerial campaign of Lal Krishna Advani during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, in the style of poll campaigns of American presidents, was, it was said, substantially funded from Madhya Pradesh. Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj is said to be another beneficiary of Chauhan’s large heartedness. Her declared cash, gold and immovable property multiplied manifold between 2006 when she was elected to Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh and 2009 when she contested Lok Sabha election from Vidisha in the State. Surely, these two cannot be the only ones.