The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has questioned former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati in connection with the Rs 10,000-crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam that hit the state during her 2007-12 tenure.
During her examination by CBI officials on Monday, Mayawati is said to have evaded crucial questions and feigned ignorance on some decisions taken during her tenure as the CM, Press Trust of India reported.
Mayawati was questioned by the CBI after the central investigating agency claimed to have received “new evidence” against the former UP CM.
State government officials and ministers allegedly diverted central funds meant to bolster health infrastructure in rural areas between 2005 and 2012 as part of the widespread scam that saw one of the biggest CBI investigations, with 73 FIRs already.
The Bahujan Samaj Party chief recently accused the NDA government of political vendetta, saying the move was aimed to demoralise her party in the run-up to the Bihar assembly elections and to “divert attention from the central government’s failure to fulfill promises made to the people”.
The NDA government refuted her allegations. The CBI works on the “basis of proof” and “there is no need to draw any other conclusion on the agency’s move”, said Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Mayawati’s name does not figure in any of the NRHM first information reports (FIR) registered by the CBI. A CBI official recently told Hindustan Times: “The agency has strong grounds, on the basis of which we have sought to examine her. This much should be clear.”
“…bifurcation of the health department was proposed and got approved against prescribed norms of NRHM as laid down by government of India,” the CBI has alleged in an FIR.
The agency was examining Mayawati on three issues — bifurcation of the health department by the her government; alleged irregularities in the appointment of 100-odd district primary health officers during her 2007-2012 stint as chief minister; and alleged siphoning of NRHM funds by chief medical officers and district primary health officers.
The scam is considered an important factor in the defeat of the BSP in the 2012 assembly elections.
Mayawati’s rivals accused her of siphoning off Rs 10,000 crore released by the Centre for strengthening rural health services. The CAG unearthed irregularities worth Rs 5,000 crore.
Subsequently, the killing of two doctors drew public outcry and the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court ordered a CBI probe on November 15, 2011.