The multi-crore national rural health mission (NRHM) scam has returned to haunt Bahujan Samaj Party leader and former chief minister Mayawati ahead of 2017 assembly election.
A CBI court in Ghaziabad has issued non-bailable warrants against her former health minister, Anant Kumar Mishra, and his parents and fixed September 23 as the next date of hearing. The Central Bureau of Investigation had on July 21 filed a charge sheet against Mishra and his parents, accusing them of corruption and amassing assets illegally.
Hundreds of crores of rupees meant for buying medicines and equipment for village health centres and hospitals were siphoned off over several years in one of the biggest scandals to hit the country.
Mishra, who wielded a lot of clout when Mayawati was the CM, is a relative of BSP national general secretary SC Mishra and has been tasked with wooing the Brahmin community ahead of the state election.
The scandal proved to be Mayawati’s undoing in the 2012 assembly elections. In the run-up to the polls, the CBI had arrested her close aide and family welfare minister Babu Singh Kushwaha, giving political rivals ammunition to target the BSP.
Fearing CBI questioning, Mayawati told her supporters last week that the Centre might use the investigation agency to harass her.
“Corruption under the BSP rule and lawlessness under the SP government will be the main focus of our election campaign,” a senior BJP leader said.
When Mishra was the health minister -- from 2007-11 -- Mahendra Pandey and Guddu Khan alias Raees Alam Siddiqui worked as his conduits, supplying medicines and equipment to chief medical officers, the CBI charge sheet said.
Mishra abused his position in posting CMOs and was paid Rs 15-20 lakh for each posting. The money was paid through Pandey. While Mishra acquired huge illegal assets, the CMOs misappropriated NRHM funds. The CMOs told the CBI that Mishra forced them to order medicines from Pandey’s company.
Mishra’s parents, DC Mishra and Bimla, abetted the crime by purchasing properties in their names, the CBI said.
A CBI officer said Mishra bought properties in Safdarjung Enclave in New Delhi, Gilli Bazar, Gwaltoli and Kakadeo in Kanpur, Vipul Khand in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar and Madhuban Bapudham Awasiya Yojana in Ghaziabad.
Mishra also purchased two Kolkata-based paper companies, Pinky Holding Pvt Ltd and Travol Barter Pvt Ltd, and made his parents the directors. The aim was to convert black money through paper companies.
HT tried to contact Anant Kumar Mishra but he was not available for comments.
The Centre released Rs 10,000 crore under NRHM between 2005 and 2011. A CAG audit detected misappropriation of Rs 4,900 crore.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court ordered a CBI probe in November 2011 after two chief medical officers (CMOs) were murdered in Lucknow. Then family welfare minister Babu Singh Kushwaha, a close aide of BSP chief Mayawati, and health minister Anant Kumar Mishra were forced to resign.
Kushwaha and health secretary Pradeep Shukla were later arrested by the CBI, which also took in custody several CMOs, doctors and medicine suppliers.