Bhopal, Aug 19 : Just three months short of completing a decade in office on November 29, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today said he has not indulged in any wrongdoing in the Vyapam scam and that he sticks to ‘honesty is the best policy’ approach in politics. “I am discharging my duties honestly. I stick to honesty come what may. In democracy, Chief Minister is a servant of people. I follow this core principle religiously,” Chouhan told PTI in an interview here. (Read: CBI files three new FIRs in Vyapam scam)

Chouhan came under fire after the massive irregularities in recruitment in various government departments, especially in the pre-medical examination conducted by MP Professional Examination Board (MPPEB), commonly known by its Hindi acronym Vyapam, came to light. The scam took larger proportions after a number of people connected with it, including witnesses and accused, died under suspicious circumstances. The opposition Congress has been demanding Chouhan’s resignation over the scam. “Right now I am disturbed that MP’s reputation has been tarnished nationwide and globally over the Vyapam scam by the Congress for selfish political motives,” Chouhan said.

“I am confident that truth will prevail once the CBI inquiry into the scam is over,” he said. To a poser, Chouhan said in the ten years since becoming Chief Minister on November 29, 2005, he has tried to bring transparency in admission and recruitments done by Vyapam. Earlier, recruitments were done on the basis of paper chits sent by those in power during the Congress regime as a result of which talented young people were left out. In many departments, recruitments were carried out in an unfair manner, he said.

“In order to check this menace and purge the system, recruitment procedures were made transparent under Vyapam,” he said. Vyapam has carried out tests of 1.7 crore aspirants for jobs in government services and admission to medical courses and among them 3.54 lakh candidates were selected since 2007, he said. “After I came to know about irregularities in selection processes, I ordered a probe in which it was found that 1,641 cases, mostly related to admission to medical colleges, were not as per rules.

“These admissions/selections have been dealt accordingly. Irregularities amount to mere 0.01 per cent of the total intake, since 2007,” he said. “Our government had handed over the probe into irregularities to Special Task Force (STF). High Court formed Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by retired High Court Justice Chandresh Bhushan to monitor the investigation and report to it,” he said. Chouhan accused Congress of creating a propaganda of false allegations by linking the deaths to the scam and thereby tarnishing the image of the state.

“Congress tried to create an atmosphere of distrust in the entire country which resulted in sullying the state’s image. The government in order to clear the air on the issue, requested the High Court and Supreme Court to hand over the investigations to CBI. “The apex court had not only handed over the probe to the CBI, but also appreciated the state government’s stand on the issue,” he said, adding, “I brought transparency in the admission and selection procedures. Instead of praises, I have been targeted.” When asked about the dumper scam in 2007 in which his name had cropped up and Congress targeting him, Chouhan said, “Congress could not succeed. I came out triumphant.”

He said Congress has stooped too low and tried to malign his and his family’s image, but failed to harm to BJP in MP. “People of MP know the truth. They won’t allow Congress to ruin their state’s image. We have swept in the just concluded civic body election,” he said.
Asked if he had ever contemplated on resigning from his post, Chouhan said, “Twice I had been deeply saddened and disturbed when Congress hit me and my family members below the belt. But I had never thought of resigning as I love to serve people and want to dedicate my life to them.” Only Congress’s Digvijay Singh has a similar record of holding the Chief Minister’s post for ten years.