The Congress accused Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of being involved in the professional examination board scandal on Monday, saying he tampered with evidence and that he must quit for the sake of a fair probe into "Asia's biggest scam".
Digvijaya Singh, presenting what he says was evidence against Chouhan, said the CM was among powerful people in the government who got candidates selected unfairly in the PEB tests.
Singh was joined by Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath – the other top most leaders of the opposition party from Madhya Pradesh – in press conference where they said a computer file from a former PEB employee initially contained the incriminating details that were later removed ostensibly at the behest of the government.
“The STF works directly under the CM... We demand he step down for a fair investigation,” Singh said at the state Congress headquarters in Bhopal.
Chouhan, speaking to reporters later in the day, refuted the allegations and counter-accused the Congress of maligning him.
The fraud in PEB exams, a state-run test that makes recruitment for a wide variety of courses and jobs, involved multiple rackets that helped candidates rig the examinations for money, including employing imposters to write test papers, manipulating sitting arrangements as well as supplying forged answer sheets.
The opposition leaders said a spreadsheet recovered from PEB's former systems analyst Nitin Mahindra – who is one of the suspects — had Chouhan’s name at 48 places before they were deleted.
"I have handed over the original documents in the affidavit to the high court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) headed by the justice (retired) Chandresh Bhushan," Singh said, referring to documents that he gave to the investigation team.
Refusing to reveal the source that gave him the file from Mahindra’s computer, Singh said, “now there is technology available that even if there are repeated changes in the disk, they could be detected” to buttress his allegation.
He and his colleagues reiterated their allegation that evidences had been systematically tampered to save individuals in the Bharatiya Janata Party government.
"The STF works directly under the CM. An officer whose annual confidential report is written by CM cannot investigate the latter and hence, we have been demanding a CBI probe in the scam", the Congress leader said.
The files on Mahindra’s computers apparently contained records of candidates whom he helped crack the tests. Among those details were names of politicians who recommended the candidates and the amounts that were apparently paid in bribes.
"Nearly a thousand youths are in jail but those who were the kingpin are free", Jyotiraditya Scindia, the MP from Guna, said.
KTS Tulsi, a senior Supreme Court lawyer who was also present in the press conference, likened the evidence to the proof in the Watergate scandal that led from American president Richard Nixon to resign.
"They make sensational claims ahead of Assembly sessions. They have done it in the past too”, said government spokesperson Narottam Mishra while rubbishing the Congress’ allegations.
Read:Digvijaya is trying to tarnish my image by making bogus allegations, says Chouhan