The Rs 4,900-crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam in Uttar Pradesh claimed its fourth life on Monday morning.
Key accused Sunil Verma, 55, allegedly shot himself dead in his Lucknow home, days after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is investigating the scam, raided his residence.Verma, a resident engineer, was named in the first FIR filed in the scam relating to upgrade of 134 hospitals across Uttar Pradesh for Rs13.4 crore by construction and design services, a unit of the UP Jal Nigam in which sacked minister Babu Singh Kushwaha also figured.
Verma's brief suicide note in Hindi said: "I am upset over the CBI raids at my residence. There are no discrepancies in the estimate prepared by me for the upgrade of 134 health centres under the NRHM scheme. I am responsible for committing suicide and my family members and office colleagues should not be harassed."
Lucknow DIG DK Thakur said Verma shot himself in his right temple with his licensed 0.32-bore revolver in his drawing room around 8am while his wife was in the kitchen.
Verma was dead by the time he was taken to hospital.
With UP heading for assembly polls, parties jumped in with their demands and theories.
"In the five years of (Mayawati's) rule, we've seen so many disappearances and deaths whenever any scam comes to the fore," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.
The party's UP unit demanded a CBI inquiry into the death, as did the Samajwadi Party.
The BJP charged the Centre with protecting the main accused in exchange for the BSP's support in Parliament.
The CBI has sought a report from the Lucknow police. "We will look at the alleged suicide from all possible angles," a senior CBI official told HT.