Written byShalini Ojha
Merely four months after he was given the envious post of president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh, Dr. Rajeev Bindal resigned on Wednesday after a corruption scandal related to the procurement of medical supplies surfaced.
He cited "moral grounds" in his letter to BJP President JP Nadda while saying that he wants an impartial probe.
Here's what went down.
The controversy blew up after Dr. AK Gupta, the director of state's health services, was arrested on May 20 by State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau, under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
In a 43-second audio clip, he allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs. 5 lakh over the phone.
Gupta and his relatives' bank accounts were sealed and subsequently, he was suspended.
Soon after Dr. Gupta's arrest, the opposition Congress and CPI(M) asked for an independent probe, more so because the person he was speaking to was said to be close to a BJP leader.
Call details showed Dr. Gupta was present near the BJP office on the day of his arrest.
Congress' Sudhir Sharma wondered whom he went to meet there.
As the scandal created a ruckus, Bindal resigned but denied any link to the corruption scandal. He noted that the state government took prompt action, as soon as the audio clip surfaced.
"The director was booked and arrested, and investigation by vigilance bureau is on. Meanwhile, fingers were pointed at the BJP in an indirect way by some people," he wrote.
"Because I am the BJP state president and we want this alleged corruption to be thoroughly probed and so that there's no pressure of any kind and probe is not influenced in any way, I am tendering my resignation keeping in mind high moral grounds," he wrote.
This is the third time Bindal put his papers without completing his term. When BJP's Prem Kumar Dhumal was the Chief Minister of Himachal between 2007 and 2012, Bindal resigned from the health minister's post without completing his term.
After his election as speaker in 2018, he quit in January 2020 for the state BJP chief post.
Nadda, who handpicked him, accepted the resignation.
Although Bindal claimed he was stepping down on moral grounds, The Print reported he was asked to leave after an intervention from Prime Minister's Office.
In fact, a complaint was registered with PMO saying that rumors are rife about a senior BJP leader recommending service extension of Dr. Gupta.
The complainant requested PMO for probe reminding that the country is hit by a pandemic.
SP Shalini Agnihotri, who is probing the case, told IE, "The investigation points towards corruption in the purchase of various medical supplies and equipment from February onwards. These purchases involved multiple suppliers, including those from outside state."
ADG Anurag Garg said Dr. Gupta gave misleading answers during questioning, and showed "selective amnesia in recalling the events".
He was remanded in police custody on Tuesday.
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