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Vyapam Scam: The Indian Game of Thrones

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By Prerna Grewal

Amongst one of the biggest scams in India, the Vyapam Scam is gradually bringing India’s own Game of Thrones level of politics to light. Being labelled as one of the most sinister scams in the country’s history, it’s something that would make an intriguing plot for a movie or a novel. But something that has scope for existence only within the realms of fiction is indeed being witnessed in reality. It might perhaps rather end up serving as an inspiration for various fictional adaptations.

Ironically, the Vyapam Scam has had echoes in fiction even before it came to light. Amongst the various methods adopted for cheating in the examinations conducted by Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (also known as Vyavsayik Pareeksha Mandal or Vyapam) and Medical Council of India, the model of an already enrolled student seated between aspiring applicants in order to allow them to copy answers, resembles the model adopted for securing admission in the much acclaimed Bollywood comedy Munnabhai M.B.B.S.

Reports and investigations over time have brought the involvement of a wide network of politicians and officials to the surface. Former education minister Laxmikant Sharma, Governer Ram Naresh Yadav, ex officer on special duty to governer Dhanraj Yadav and Deputy Inspector General RK Shivhare are a few names that stand out amongst this integrated web of corruption. The Congress party has also been alleging Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of being involved in the scam. At the same time, it must also be noted that the scam started during Digvijaya Singh’s term as the Chief Minister.

murder

India Today journalist Akshay Singh who was investigating the scam and the Dean of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose medical college, Arun Sharma, are amongst the latest additions to those found dead under mysterious circumstances. Various figures have cropped up in regards with the number of dead people associated with the scam. While official accounts put the number of deaths at 25, unofficial estimates of deaths vary from 44 to 156, depending on who is making the claim.

As reported by The Wire, “A majority of those who died are from the Chambal region straddling Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Most of the dead were in the age group of 25-30. They were either students, who had fraudulently secured admission to medical colleges after paying hefty sums to touts of the PEB’s bosses, or job aspirants who benefited from the manipulation of recruitment tests”. The phrase “Danse Macabre”, meaning the dance of death, is literally finding manifestation in the contemporary reality.

The entire scenario raises several questions- Is it possible to untangle this mass web of corruption? Does one have heroes like Beckett and Castle to reveal the climax of this real life crime thriller? Is having heroes enough to arrive at a conclusion in a situation where people from all rungs seem to be involved? With reports of state level politicians being involved, why hasn’t a CBI enquiry been approved till now? Why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, otherwise frequently active on Twitter, silent about this scam?

Like various other scams, big or small, petty politics that’s witnessed every second day is nothing more than a recurrent manifestation of trivial aspirations, greed and self-interest of a large number of people. History can offer numerous instances of devastation by the dominance of one or all of these traits. Memory, however, easily obliterates past and cloaks it with current needs and ambition. One wonders if the negative aspects of history will ever stop repeating themselves. One wonders and is almost convinced that dream of an idyllic reality will always be a dream. Good and bad, white and black, reward and punishment – there is no perfect distribution and disintegration of these categories. It is indeed a grey world.

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Why JDU & BJP Coalition Will Remain Intact

JDU knows that this 15-16% votes is not enough to help the party and for the BJP too, only the 17% votes of upper castes are not sufficient

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Nitish Kumar with Narendra Modi.
Nitish Kumar with Narendra Modi.

By Sagarneel Sinha

There have been lots of discussions among the political circles that JDU led by Bihar Chief
Minister Nitish Kumar is upset with the BJP and trying to send signals to erst allies — RJD and the Congress. This led to speculations that Nitish may once again join the Grand Alliance (GA) leaving the NDA camp. Already, RJD’s new commander Tejasvi Yadav has clearly stated that Nitish led JDU will not be welcomed in the GA. Despite all the odds, if (suppose) GA partners accommodate Nitish, he wouldn’t be the driving force of the alliance as in 2015. Also, Nitish cannot afford to go alone like in 2014 when his party fetched only 2 seats!

Then which is the correct way for JDU? It is to go with the BJP in the upcoming 2019 polls.
JDU’s advantage in this case is the present situation of the BJP. Currently, the saffron party is not in a strong position as the party would be facing anti-incumbency from a strong RJD led alliance in the state. BJP’s traditional voters are the upper castes who account for 17% of the electorate. This votebank is not enough for the party to help to win elections. The main opposition party — RJD still commands over a larger votebank than BJP. RJD is still a dominant force among the Yadavs and the Muslims who account for 31% of the population. It means BJP has to minus the 31% votes and rely on the rest — 69%. Out of these, 16% are the Mahadalits — a large portion of whom generally hail Nitish Kumar as their leader. Also, there are Kurmis, an OBC group consisting of 4% votes — considered as the supporters of JDU. Nitish Kumar himself is also a Kurmi.

Nitish Kumar Invited to Join NDA by Amit Shah After JDU-BJP Tie-up in Bihar
Nitish Kumar Invited to Join NDA by Amit Shah After JDU-BJP Tie-up in Bihar.

JDU knows that this 15-16% votes is not enough to help the party and for the BJP too, only the 17% votes of upper castes are not sufficient. However, if these votebanks are joined together they form around 31-32%. Plus, to gain the extra votes, both the parties have the option to rely on the personal charisma of Nitish Kumar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, there is a power tussle between the two allies to get a respectable share of seats.

This power tussle is because of a strong BJP which earlier used to be a junior ally. The 2014 Lok Sabha elections changed the political scenario of the state where BJP emerged as the largest party in terms of vote share and seats. JDU knows the reality of a new emerging BJP, though it is pushing hard to gain a respectable share of seats for the Lok Sabha elections. Instead, Nitish Kumar has another option — giving the bigger chunk to the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections and the latter playing the junior partner for the 2020 assembly elections if held timely. Given the current situation in the country, in a crucial state like Bihar, BJP can hardly reject JDU as the later still commands over 15-16% votes — a very crucial votebank for winning maximum seats in the 2019 polls. Importance of JDU can also be explained by BJP president Amit Shah’s visit to Patna to have breakfast and dinner with Nitish Kumar. Though in politics there are no permanent friends or foes, so any perfect prediction is impossible. But given the current situation, JDU and BJP parting their ways seems unlikely as both the parties are in need of each other as already highlighted by Amit Shah that the two allies would fight the Lok Sabha elections together. Smiling face of Nitish Kumar was also an indication that the meetings with Amit Shah were fine.