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Opposition seeks CBI probe in Vyapam scam, BJP gears up to defend another CM

New Delhi(web team): The recent deaths of people linked with the Vyapam scam have added to the BJP’s woes, with the Opposition upping the ante against the party and the Modi government.

The Opposition on Sunday mounted pressure for a CBI probe into the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam after the deaths of Akshay Singh, a journalist following the scam and Arun Sharma, a medical college dean assisting in the probe. The BJP, however, is standing by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who was under attack from the Opposition.

While politicians, cutting across party lines, condoled the journalist’s death, the political undertones in their reactions were unmistakable. While Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and BJP’s Delhi chief Satish Upadhyay were among those who attended the journalist’s funeral, Congress leader Digvijay Singh said his viscera samples should be sent to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here. He said it was a matter of concern as over 40 people had died.

Chouhan said he would write to the high court-appointed Special Investigation Team to look into the death of the journalist. He said the high court was probing the scam and the state government had no role.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley said since various issues were being raised with respect to the circumstances of the death, there should be would be a “very fair inquiry so that all doubts can be put to rest.”
However, the Congress was up in arms, saying the SIT-STF combination had failed to unearth all layers of the Vyapam scam and demanded a Supreme Court monitored CBI probe. “We feel that the Madhya Pradesh chief minister is merely using it as a tool to divert attention from fair investigation and quieten the truth. We believe in order for the truth to come out, a probe monitored by the CBI is the only answer. The only aim that Congress has is that truth should come out and justice should prevail,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewalaa.

The Aam Aadmi Party said the entire issue indicated that politicians, officials and dalals were involved in the Vyapam scam. “Around 1,800 people have been arrested in connection with the case, the prime among which was former Madhya Pradesh Education Minister Laxmikant Sharma and there is an FIR against the state governor,” AAP leader Alok Agarwal said.

The issue is likely to give more ammunition to the Opposition, which is already preparing to disrupt the monsoon session over the Lalit Modi row, in Parliament. The opposition is also planning to take up the Vyapam issue in the assembly later this month.

Meanwhile, the BJP leadership, which has already sought all the details concerning the Vyapam scam from the state, is defending aChouhan and the state party, sources said. “In the 14 deaths of the accused since the case was registered in 2013, there has been no complaint from any of the families. In the death of the journalist, there has to be an inquiry. To link it to Vyapam would be to jump to conclusions,” he said.

The four left parties are planning to hold an All India protest day on July 20 against corruption in high places at the Centre and BJP ruled states. In a joint statement, they said the Vyapam scam has exposed the BJP state government “as having perpetrated one of the worst corruption cases in the state ever. Officially 27 people associated with this case, including nine important witnesses, have died under mysterious circumstances. Important journalists, reporting on the scam, have also been victims of such mysterious deaths. Nearly 47 inexplicable deaths of people connected with this scam in one way or the other have been reported.”

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