Embattled Madhya Pradesh chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will be in New Delhi for "a few hours" on Wednesday, during which he could meet some senior BJP leaders close on the heels of seeking a CBI inquiry into the Vyapam scam.
Giving in to pressure from the opposition, Chouhan said on Tuesday that his government will ask the Madhya Pradesh high court to direct the CBI to investigate the multi-layered scam in the state professional examination board (PEB), or Vyapam, which has become the biggest challenge for his third term in power.
A source close to Chouhan told Hindustan Times that the chief minister will be in the national capital to attend a meeting convened by the external affairs ministry to review preparations for the World Hindi Conference.
Madhya Pradesh is the partner state for the event to be held in Bhopal during September 10-12.
"He will be in Delhi for a couple of hours. It is a government event but he could meet a couple of senior BJP leaders," the source said.
Chouhan gave in to the demand from opposition parties and social activists for a CBI probe into the scam after a string of mysterious deaths of accused, beneficiaries, whistleblowers and witnesses.
“There are questions on people’s minds. People want to know the truth. Questions on people’s minds have to be answered. I bow my head to people’s wishes...I am sending a request to the high court that the CBI be allowed to investigate the case,” he told a hurriedly convened news conference in Bhopal.
The A to Z of the Vyapam scam
Political analysts viewed the remarks as a manoeuvre to take the Congress head-on as it has alleged that Chouhan and his family were involved in the scam.
The announcement came a day after Union home minister Rajnath Singh ruled out a CBI probe, saying a Special Investigating Team (SIT) monitored by the Madhya Pradesh high court is already investigating allegations of cheating during tests conducted by the tainted board for admissions to professional courses and recruitments in government jobs.
But opposition parties have alleged that the SIT reports to the high court-monitored Special Task Force (STF), which is packed with people from the state government.
BJP leaders feel the delay on Chouhan’s part in seeking a CBI inquiry has already damaged his image.
“Chouhan had lost no time in recommending a CBI inquiry into the Shehla Masood murder case, responding positively to the demand of Masood’s family. This was despite the fact that a ruling party MLA and a ruling party MP were considered close to Masood and a CBI inquiry was supposed to cause embarrassment to the entire party in the course of investigation,” said a senior BJP leader.
However, Chouhan ignored pleas from the opposition, social activists and whistleblowers for a CBI inquiry into the Vyapam scam. His defiant stand continued in the state assembly and several sessions were cut short because of the opposition’s constant demands for a CBI inquiry into the scam.