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Bindal episode: BJP, Congress spar over'COVID corruption'

Shimla: Hours after state BJP president Rajeev Bindal tendered his resignation in the wake of Rs 5 lakh bribery charges in the medical supplies, the PPE kits, the opposition Congress has gone on a full-fledged war against the state government seeking a probe by sitting high court judge and a white paper on all medical supplies during the COVID 19 crisis.

The turmoil created by Bindal's resignation and arrest of Director Health Services Dr Ajay Gupta, based on an audio-clip, has put the BJP government at the receiving end.

Gupta was arrested by the state Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau within hours after the audio-clip had reached Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, apart from top functionaries of the state government engaged in handling Coronavirus spread.

Bindal says he had resigned on the moral ground though neither he nor the BJP has any role in the health department scam.

That's what the opposition is asking the government as how some state BJP president finds his morality at stake when his name never figured in the scam?

We want the government to release a white paper on all the purchases made by the state's health department during the COVID 19 crisis. Which were the firms engaged in the supplies and whether the BJP's top leadership was had influenced the supplies?" leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri asserted on Friday, supporting party's demand for a probe by sitting High Court judge.

During past 12 hours, at least eight congress leaders viz former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, former minister G S Bali, CWC member Asha Kumari, former PCC president Sukhwinder Sukhu, state BJP president Kuldeep Rathore, sitting MLA Harshvardhan Chauhan and former MLAs – Rohit Thakur and Rajesh Dharmani have rather sought the resignation of Chief Minister on moral grounds.

"Because health portfolio happens to be with Chief Minister and scam took place under his nose. Let him own moral responsibility and allow a fair probe by stepping down" said congress leaders.

The biggest counter-offensive against the opposition came from Rakesh Pathania, a fire-brand BJP MLA from Kangra district who reminded the congress of high-scale corruption during the Virbhadra Singh rule. The government and Chief Minister during all five-year rule spent more time attending corruption and ED cases in the courts, from Shimla to Delhi, then serving the people, he said.

"Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others" he reminded.

Two cabinet ministers — Govind Thakur and Bikram Singh Thakur — also came to rescue the government while Randhir Sharma, BJP's chief spokesperson strongly defended the party asking the Congress to wait patiently the outcome of the vigilance probe.

"Dr Bindal has resigned on moral grounds. There is no connection with anything relating to a bribery case against Director Health services, currently under arrest" he said.

Sources said the resignation has created a storm in the state's politics at a time when there is a huge spike in the Coronavirus cases. The scam had dented the BJP government image though it is understood that the Chief Minister's tough stand has averted huge embarrassment to the ruling party.

The BJP has now started the search for Bindal's successor, who could primarily be Chief Minister's choice unlike in the case of Bindal -– who quit Speaker's post to cross over to the organisational task, seeing himself in the Chief Ministerial race in due course.

"The corruption in emergency medical purchases at the time of Coronavirus is an insult to humanity. Chief Minister must take responsibility for it as also being a health minister. Bindal's resignation has no meaning vis-à-vis scam in the government " says Rakesh Singha CPM MLA.

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