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Vyapam accused Gulab Singh Kirar joins Congress; party does U-turn, denies he was made member

The state unit of the Congress tweeted Gulab Singh Kirar joined the party in Indore along with a few others in the presence of its president Rahul Gandhi. But the party later denied offering him membership and deleted the tweet announcing it.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2018 11:17 IST
Shruti Tomar
Shruti Tomar
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
vyapam,gulab singh kirar,vyapam accused joins congress
Gulab Singh Kirar (in circle), an accused in the Vyapam scam, sharing dais with chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan during a function in Raisen district on February 3,2015. Kirar joined the Congress on October 31, 2018 but the party later denied he was extended its membership and deleted the tweet announcing it. (HT File )

Hours after a leader of the Kirar community named in the Vyapam scam joined the Congress, the main opposition party in Madhya Pradesh denied he was extended its membership and deleted the tweet announcing it.

The state unit of the Congress tweeted Gulab Singh Kirar joined the party in Indore along with a few others in the presence of its president Rahul Gandhi.

“In presence of Congress president Rahul Gandhi BJP MLA from Tendukheda Sanjay Sharma, ex-MLA Kamlapat Arya and Gulab Singh Kirar got membership of the Congress. Welcome to Congress family,” the Congress said in the now-deleted tweet from its official Twitter handle @INCMP on Tuesday.

Kirar too acknowledged his membership of the Congress.

“I joined the Congress unconditionally as I was feeling suffocated in the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) as the latter failed to address the problems of common people,” Kirar said.

On his alleged involvement in Vyapam scam, Kirar said, “I am a victim of a political conspiracy. Till now, CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) didn’t get any proof against me and my son but now I have joined the Congress so anything can happen.”

The information came as a shock to many in the Congress amid its president’s attacks on chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in his speeches since he began his campaign in Madhya Pradesh for the state assembly elections.

Gandhi said during his visit to Bhopal last month that his party would not allow those accused in Vyapam and e-tendering scams to flee as liquor baron Vijay Mallya had done.

“Rahulji is a national leader. He must not have been aware of credentials of Kirar. It seems certain party leaders didn’t tell him about Kirar. Otherwise, this would not have been possible,” a Congress leader said on the condition of anonymity.

Vyapam scam whistleblowers Anand Rai and Ashish Chaturvedi also launched an attack on the Congress after Kirar joined the party.

Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza, however, said he was not there to join the party. “I think he was there to say something,” she added.

However, when asked about the Congress tweet she said she would check it as to how it happened.

A former chairperson of the State Backward Classes Commission, Kirar was suspended from his post by the BJP-led state government in 2015 after an FIR was registered by the special task force (STF) against him and his son Shakti Pratap Singh for their alleged involvement in the Vyapam scam.

As per force’s charge-sheet, Kirar had allegedly paid money to Vyapam officials to help his son clear the pre-PG medical exam in 2011. Shakti Pratap had topped in the exam.

Kirar and his family members absconded for about nine months after the FIR was registered and the Congress launched an attack on chief minister Chouhan for his alleged proximity to the accused. Former chief minister Digvijaya Singh had alleged that Kirar was being shielded as he happened to be a relative of Chouhan.

The Vyapam scam, as it is known, surfaced in July 2013 when the police arrested 20 impersonators appearing for the medical entrance examination in Indore. Vyapam is the Hindi acronym for the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), which conducts a raft of entrance examinations for professional courses and government job recruitment tests for posts ranging from food inspectors to forest guards.

The racket, in which undeserving candidates secured high ranks by either getting proxies to impersonate them in the tests or through cheating by other means, involved a clique of politicians and bureaucrats that facilitated the fraud in exchange for bribes, according to investigators. CBI took over the probe of the scandal three years ago.

Kirar and his son got bail from the Supreme Court in 2016. He was active on social media for the past few months and posted several tweets in favour of the BJP.

The BJP also attacked the Congress over Kirar’s joining the party.

“This has proved as to who is supporting the Vyapam scam accused. We believe that common people have a good understanding of the real character of the Congress party and that would be proved in the upcoming elections,” BJP’s spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said.

First Published: Oct 31, 2018 11:16 IST