Posts Tagged ‘Shivraj Singh Chauhan’
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has been adroitly using the judicial inquiry to evade action where action is required. It serves in two ways. It assuages the hurt of the victims of a mishap, particularly if it is the result of the dereliction of duty on the part of the bureaucrats. Secondly, Chouhan earns the gratitude of the errant bureaucrats by not taking action against them even if they are indicted by the judicial commission. Hence Chouhan’s prompt announcement of a judicial inquiry into the Petlawad (Jhabua) blast which killed over 90 persons and injured over 100 others.
A stampede at Ratangarh temple in Datia district in October 2006 had resulted in the death of 50 devotees. The judicial commission appointed by Chouhan squarely held the Collector and the Superintendent of Police responsible for the tragedy. Chouhan took no action against them nor did he act on the commission’s recommendations for avoiding such occurrences in future. A similar tragedy at the same temple took place in October 2013 and this time the death toll reached 115. Chouhan instituted another judicial inquiry. This time, though, he ordered suspension of the Collector and the Police Superintendent as it was the election year. Needless to say the recommendations of the judicial commission in the Second Ratangarh tragedy were also ignored like the recommendations of the commission in the First Ratangarh tragedy. Suspension in such cases is quietly revoked after some time.
The tragedy on September 12 in the small town of Petlawad could have been easily avoided if the officials from the district level to the State level had cared for the concerns of the people. The law does not permit storage of explosives in a residential area but here the explosives were kept in a house at the centre of Petlawad town. Moreover, as The Indian Express revealed, owner of the explosives store Rajendra Kasawa did not even have a licence to store or sell the explosives. Kasawa has only a ‘Shot Firer’s Certificate’ that allows the holder to undertake blasting work in connection with well sinking, road construction and agricultural work, among other things. The holder of this certificate is not authorised to store even one gram of explosives.
The residents of Petlawad have been complaining to the district administration about the storage of the explosives in the residential areas but the district administration always ignored the complaints. State’s Home Minister Babulal Gaur, who was the first government functionary to reach the site of the tragedy, observed that a series of violations had been found in storing and selling explosives in Jhabua district where mining business had been flourishing for long. said a series of violations have been found in storing and selling explosives in Jhabua district where mining business was flourishing since long time. a series of violations have been found in storing and selling explosives in Jhabua district where mining business was flourishing since long time. “There should be a regular three-month check of stock register and magazine depot where gelatin and other explosives were stored and obtained by the licensee which in this case was found absent”, said a series of violations have been found in storing and selling explosives in Jhabua district where mining business was flourishing since long time. The tragedy is that the State’s Home Minister can only whimper and has no power to take action against any one.
If Chouhan were honest in his intentions, he should have gone for a prompt police or CBI inquiry as it is a clear case of criminal activity. But an honest Chouhan would not have presided over the Vyapam scam which ruined the careers of thousands of young girls and boys in the State.
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)