Himachal Pradesh’s Bharatiya Janata Party President Rajeev Bindal resigned from his position on Wednesday, just four months after his appointment, after the arrest of a senior state health official in a scam related to the procurement of medical supplies during the coronavirus crisis, PTI reported.
Health Services Director Ajay Kumar Gupta was arrested on May 20 by the State Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau after an audio clip went viral. In the audio clip, Gupta was purportedly heard demanding Rs 5-lakh bribe from a medical supplier.
In his resignation letter to BJP National President JP Nadda, Bindal said he was quitting the post on “high moral grounds” because the party’s name was being dragged into the corruption scandal. “Recently, an audio clip of the director of health services went viral following which the state government took prompt action and the director was booked and arrested, and investigation by vigilance bureau is on,” his resignation letter read, according to The Indian Express. “Meanwhile, fingers were pointed at the BJP in an indirect way by some people.”
“Because I am the BJP state president and we want this alleged corruption to be thoroughly probed and so that there is no pressure of any kind and the probe is not influenced in any way, I am tendering my resignation keeping in mind high moral grounds,” he added. Bindal also insisted that the saffron party had no involvement in the scam. “Implicating BJP in this matter is unjust and disrespect to work done by Himachal BJP’s work for the society in the time of coronavirus pandemic,” NDTV quoted him as saying in his letter.
Superintendent of Police Shalini Agnihotri had told the The Indian Express that the contents of the audio had been verified by investigators. “The investigation points towards corruption in the purchase of various medical supplies and equipment from February onward, she said. “These purchases involved multiple suppliers, including those from outside the state.”
The Congress, meanwhile, said that BJP cannot get rid of the “sin of corruption” during the health crisis. In a joint statement, state Congress President Kuldeep Singh Rathore and Legislature Party Leader Mukesh Agnihotri said Chief Minister Jairam Thakur cannot evade moral responsibility since he had additional charge of the Health Department. The party demanded a probe into the scam by a sitting High Court judge.