Amid a walkout from the Opposition, the Chhattisgarh Assembly on Thursday passed a Bill that will enable the Congress government in the state to acquire a private medical college in Durg district, PTI reported.

The move has courted controversy as the college has links with in-laws of the daughter of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel. The Opposition has also accused the Baghel-led Congress government of impropriety in valuating the cost to acquire the college, The Indian Express reported.

The Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Medical College is currently owned by an unlisted private company called Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Hospital. The firm is headed by Director Mangal Prasad Chandrakar.

Mangal Prasad Chandrakar is the elder brother of Vijay Chandrakar, the father-in-law of Baghel’s daughter, Divya Baghel, according to the newspaper.

Chandulal Chandrakar himself was a five-term Congress MP from Durg. The Chandrakar community built the hospital to commemorate him after he died in 1995.

However, the Congress and the chief minister’s links with the hospital is not the only red flag in its acquisition process.

The Bill states that acquisition of the college will cost the state exchequer Rs 140 crore a year, which the Opposition has alleged, is double its actual valuation. The Bill justifies the amount suggesting that it was a “compulsory acquisition”.

The Statement of Object and Reasons of the Bill states that the current owners had requested the state government to acquire the college given their financial difficulties, The Indian Express reported.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Chief Minister Raman Singh alleged that owners of the college had drawn a loan of Rs 172 crore by mortgaging Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Hospital. “The bill has been brought to ensure relief to directors of college from debts,” Singh alleged, according to PTI.

The medical college also faces allegations from statutory bodies about irregularities in its functioning.

Minutes of a meeting of the Medical Council of India, held on April 12, 2018, showed that the body “decided to recommend not to recognise/approve” the allocation of 150 MBBS seats in the college. The decision was taken based on observations about “non-genuine patients” and “unprepared” and “lesser-than-needed” residents, The Indian Express reported.

The council noted that the operation theater register of the college was full of entries even as there were no such post-operative patients in surgical and allied surgical specialties wards, except for two departments. “In tough language, it can be termed as fraudulent,” the council had noted in the minutes.

In a letter in October, the National Medical Council also decided not to allow admission of 150 students in the MBBS course for the academic year 2020-’21 due to “deficiency of the faculty and residents to the tune of 55% each”.

The state government has said that students of the college had repeatedly demanded the acquisition in view of their future.

However, in a letter dated as recently as July 1, the secretary of the department of medical education had written to the Chhatisgarh advocate general seeking transfer of students of the college to other places for their “general welfare”.