Released from Bhopal central jail on bail after 18 months, former higher and technical education minister Laxmikant Sharma, who was arrested in connection with Vyapam scam, expressed faith in god, judiciary and the CBI. Talking to Hindustan Times, Sharma was guarded about top RSS leaders’ or the CM’s alleged role in the scam. He says he would have taken pride in exposing the scam had he come to know about it on time. Excerpts from the interview:
Out of jail on bail what do you have to say about your involvement in the scam?
I have complete faith in God, judiciary and the CBI. I strongly believe that I will come out of this clean.
Was it possible that you were not aware of the scam despite being at the helm of affairs in the department?
I had no role to play in the day-to-day working of Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board. I was busy with my election campaign when I came to know about the scam through the media. Had I come to know about it, I would have taken pride in exposing the scam.
What do you think about chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s claim that it was his order for an inquiry that the scam came to light?
If he says so I have no reason to disbelieve it.
You are repeatedly expressing faith in the CBI but hardly talk of the STF which conducted the inquiry earlier?
STF worked against me to ensure my stay in jail was extended. They indicted me in one case after another. Since they were investigating the case for a long time they could have done investigation in several cases simultaneously and filed the challan in the court. This was despite the fact I was cooperating with STF on my own. I had appeared before the authorities several times.
What do you say about deaths related to Vyapam scam?
Any death was unfortunate. If there is a foul play in any of the deaths it should be properly investigated and the guilty should be brought to book.
STF allegedly found that certain RSS leaders like former RSS chief KS Sudarshan and RSS joint general secretary Suresh Soni had links with the scam. Your comments?
Nobody even should think of linking RSS leaders with the scam. The RSS is a patriots’ organization whose integrity is spotless.
If you think there was a conspiracy to put you behind bars who were the conspirators?
At present neither am I thinking of any conspiracy angle nor any conspirator. May God bless them all. I have no bitter feeling against anybody. My destiny had this in store for me that I had to go to jail.
Don’t you think that Vyapam scam spoiled careers of a large number of candidates?
They (STF) made a mountain out of a molehill.
Did you get any support from chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, your former ministerial colleagues and other party leaders?
The entire BJP leadership supported me.
Did you enjoy special facilities in the jail?
I told the jail authorities the very first day that I wanted to live like a simple undertrial prisoner and didn’t want any facility.
What were the most traumatising moments during your stay in jail?
I couldn’t forget my mother’s face during the entire period, who was crying when I was taken by the STF. She had resolved not to leave Bhopal go back to Sironj, my hometown until my release. It shook me badly but it gave me strength as well to overcome all the odds in jail.
What do you say about the reception after your release from jail?
I expected a few vehicles with my relatives and a few supporters but it was quite unbelievable. A huge gathering turned up outside the jail to welcome me.
Will you return to the BJP?
I left party on my own after I was arrested. Now, it’s for the party to decide about it.
If you were to become the jail minister what kind of reforms you would like to initiate in jails?
I studied everything very deeply. Jails need a lot of reforms right from the food quality to other things.