Graft issue in MP has not even spared the revered Mahakal temple in Ujjain
On 1 October last year, 20 BJP leaders who constitute the “core group” of Madhya Pradesh were engaged in a nine-hour interaction in a resort in Ratapani Sanctuary, 40 km from Bhopal. Among the attendees were National General Secretary (organisation) B.L. Santosh, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, state president Bishnu Dutt Sharma and other top leaders from the state.
Among the points of concern that was raised during this meet was the alleged corruption taint that had come to be associated with the state government. As per party leaders, Santosh gave clear instructions that everything possible should be done to address this perception that corruption, especially in state government departments, was being allowed to flourish in the state.
Almost eight months later, a massive fire broke out at the Satpura building in Bhopal which houses several government offices, including that of the health department of Madhya Pradesh. While the fire was doused the next day, speculation that the fire was “deliberately” started to hide crucial files which could have brought to the fore instances of alleged corruption, continues to linger on. The corruption issue in Madhya Pradesh has not even spared the revered Mahakal temple in Ujjain. Recently, a thunderstorm that lashed parts of Madhya Pradesh on 28 May, had blown away the statues of saints that were erected by the Ujjain Smart City project. Media reports later revealed that Ujjain Smart City had signed an agreement with the company that built the idols, and the contract documents do not mention any specifications of the idols, including the ones that toppled during the thunderstorm.
Reports also suggest that Ujjain Smart City also failed to provide clear documents on the award of the Mahakal Corridor project to the state Lokayukta. Earlier this month, the state Lokayukta issued a directive to the Director General of Special Police Establishment (Lokayukta) to register a case against the state Urban Development Minister Bhupendra Singh with regards to disproportionate assets case. In another case of corruption that has plagued the Madhya Pradesh government, a 36-page report by the Madhya Pradesh Accountant General (MPAG) marked as “confidential” that found its way into the public domain last year, alleged a massive level of corruption in the Centrally sponsored midday meal and free food scheme meant for children and pregnant and lactating mothers.
The said report has stated that “frauds are being committed without any fear” in the Women and Child Development (WCD) Department and that “large scale fraud/misappropriations in the identification of beneficiaries, production, transportation, distribution and quality control” in “Take Home Ration” (THR), which is a part of the of the Centrally sponsored Integrated Child Development Services Schemes (ICDS), are taking place.
According to the auditors, the number of beneficiaries was massively inflated, leading to a fake distribution of Take Home Ration (THR) worth Rs 111 crore. The officials who were responsible for producing the THR showed an “impossible” level of production which was “fake” and cost Rs 58 crore to the central government.
“In the last few months only, several instances of corruption has come up, despite the central party leadership raising concerns over the corruption perception that has come to be associated with the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh. Multiple surveys too have suggested that corruption is amongst the biggest issue that is pinching the voters. With not much time left for the Assembly elections that are due in November, it is very difficult for the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government now to manage to rectify this perception now,” a Bhopal-based senior political commentator told The Sunday Guardian. The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government which was accused of perpetrating the massive Vyapam scam in the past, has vehemently denied all allegations and instances of corruption in the state.