Vyapam: BJP imitates Congress


The Supreme Court has handed over the Vyapam scam to the Central Bureau of Investigation, but will the guilty ever brought to the book? One has to be an obdurate optimist to believe that. The BJP government, which has failed or refused to act against the crooks who engineered humungous scandals during the Congress-led government’s period, is unlikely to be keen on revealing the sordid details of the bloodiest scandal in Independent India. Especially when the needle of suspicion points towards its own people.

That the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is as depraved as other parties became evident in its one year of rule at the Centre; the Vyapam scandal, however, has revealed the depth of its depravity. About 50 people associated with the scam have died since 2013; even the Madhya Pradesh government admitted to 25 such deaths in court on June 25. And yet, BJP spokespersons have been denying any wrongdoing on the part of their government in the state; while a Union Cabinet minister called the entire episode “a silly issue,” an MP minister explained mysterious deaths related to the scam cavalierly—everybody who is born has to die. Is there any nadir in Indian politics?

Unsurprisingly, BJP leaders have started doing just what Congress counterparts have been doing for quite some in response to the charges of corruption—distorting and suppressing facts, peddling fallacious arguments, mouthing outlandish theories, imputing motives to the opponents, evading questions, hiding behind technicalities, misusing the police, shifting the blame on previous regimes, shielding the guilty. And, of course, there is the now classic BJP machination—reminding the Congress of 2G, coal-gate, Vadra, et al. In short, ‘my scam is smaller than yours.’

The Congress’s 10 years (2004-14) in power looked like a nightmare; among other things, the financial irregularities—scams running into lakhs of crores—were mind-boggling and unheard of. Nothing, we thought, could be as bad as Congress rule. But Vyapam is at least as bad as any scandal under the grand old party. At least 2G, CWG, etc., did not occasion so many funerals.

It is a truism that scams of the proportion of Vyapam are impossible without the collusion of people in high offices, yet most of the people arrested are students, their parents, and small-time middlemen; the only leader of some consequence behind bars is former education minister Lakshmikant Sharma; but the trail seems to have ended there. Meanwhile the spate of suspicious deaths is unabated, as also is the attempt of the state authorities to prove that they were not murders.

Senior Congress leader and former MP chief minister Digvijaya Singh has pointed out that Vyapam is consequence of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government’s desire to induct BJP-RSS cadre into the system. There seems to be some merit in his comment. Of course, the BJP trashes his remarks as those of a political rival, but it is not possible to get away by trashing him; his intentions may be political, but if his stand has found acceptance in the Supreme Court, and that is what matters.

In this manner, Singh is little different from Subramanian Swamy: a Delhi court has admitted his case against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case, setting aside the arguments regarding locus standi and political vendetta. The only difference is that while Singh has the full support of his party, Swamy is the lone ranger. The principle, however, is simple: regardless of their motives, anybody who stands for the cause of justice is welcome.

But, coming back to the original question, would there be justice? Well, I have my doubts. With so many vested interests pitted against it, and after the death of so many people and destruction of evidence, it would be a miracle if the guilty get punished.