With every passing day, the Professional Examination Board (PEB) scam
has started resembling a robbery on a busy Madhya Pradesh road. With new names tumbling out of closets and interrogation rooms, it is becoming apparent that everybody who saw it happen queued up to participate in the act like a thief, instead of raising an alarm.
The list of those named in the scam is scary because it includes people in some of the highest offices
and institutions. Some of those accused in this proverbial den of corruption were part of every important political shade.
There isn't yet any incriminating evidence against chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan
and governor Ram Naresh Yadav. But there is proof to indicate that some of the people in their staff participated in and benefitted from the scam. The governor's personal assistant Dhanraj Yadav is in the jail for getting several candidates recruited through the racket. Chouhan's former personal staff Premchand Prasad is accused of getting his daughter admitted to a medical college.
The then education minister Laxmikant Sharma, his secretary OP Sharma and the PEB controller of exams Pankaj Trivedi--the three most important men in the system--are behind bars. That Chouhan wasn't aware of what happened in his backyard either points at poor governance or the sheer brilliance of the accused in managing to hunt with the criminals by the night and run the government during the day.
When a scandal breaks and the media pounces on it, so much is reported and said that separating fact from fiction becomes very difficult. So, it is difficult to know how many of the allegations that have filtered out of court documents and interrogation rooms are indeed true. But the rogues' gallery shows people in every institution were compromised and the people running the PEB were hobnobbing with people in every important corridor of power.
The Congress has made some serious allegations against Chouhan; it has linked his wife
to several illegal recruitments through the PEB. One of the accused, PEB exam controller Trivedi, has allegedly told interrogators that he got several calls from the CM house recommending candidates for recruitment. But, such allegations are difficult to prove unless backed by solid evidence, which the Congress has failed to proffer. So, Chouhan has put up a brave front, claiming there is no need for his government to hang its head in shame. To back his argument, he has slapped a defamation suit on the chief spokesperson of the MP Congress KK Mishra, who, on his part, has refused to back down.
It is ironic also that a governor appointed by the Congress-led UPA government in 2011, has now become the target of his original benefactor's. The Congress is demanding that governor Yadav should quit since fingers have been pointed at his office. There is something really odd about the current silence in the Raj Bhavan and the mad rush within the BJP to jump to the governor's rescue.
Former leader of the opposition in the Madhya Pradesh assembly Ajay Singh claims Chouhan and Yadav have forged an 'unholy alliance' and that the governor should resign on moral grounds now that the BJP is in power in Delhi. A few days ago, when the Narendra Modi government had nudged a few governors to move out of Raj Bhawans, Yadav's name was conspicuously missing from the list. Perhaps, the BJP's interests lie in not asking Yadav to vacate his chair.
When a scandal begins to lead to the highest democratic institutions of a state, it is imperative that the whole truth comes out. Nothing can be more dangerous than letting doubts persist over the role of the top offices in a state and erode their credibility.
The current investigation in the scam is being monitored by the high court. But the cops conducting them report to the state government. The next few days would reveal who manages to prevail: those interested in exposing all the criminals, or those eager to throw a veil over those who took part in outrageous corruption