Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s decision to share the dias with Vyapam accused and former minister Laxmikant Sharma on Tuesday has raised quite a few eyebrows.
Chouhan was attending a rally in his hometown Vidisha as part of his Jan Ashirwad Yatra. Vyapam accused Sharma not only shared stage with the CM, he was also seated just beside him.
Sharma, once a key figure in BJP’s MP unit, is leaving no stone unturned after securing bail in all Vyapam related cases lodged against him.
The Congress targeted the ruling BJP over the incident with MP Congress chief Kamal Nath hinting in a tweet that Sharma holds many secrets on the Vyapam scam.
व्यापम घोटाले में ज़मानत पर मंत्री लक्ष्मीकांत शर्मा शिवराज की अमानत है ।ज़मानतदार ," राज़ की बात कह दूँ तो जाने महफ़िल में फ़िर क्या हो।" अमानतदार ,"राज़ खुलने का तुम पहले ज़रा अंजाम सोच लो,इशारों को अगर समझो, राज़ को राज़ रहने दो।" pic.twitter.com/24EzjQCSjK— Office Of Kamal Nath (@OfficeOfKNath) October 17, 2018
BJP spokesperson Rajnish Agrawal hit back at the Congress saying several of its leaders are also accused in Vyapam scam.
“Laxmikant Sharma shared the dais with CM as he is a former public representative from the area and allegations against him are yet to be proved. We have neither given him ticket nor he is our party member,” Agrawal said.
Sharma heaped praises on Shivraj during the rally with a giant banner of the CM, his wife Singh and Sharma himself as the backdrop.
The event triggered speculations around Sharma’s possible return to the BJP.
Sources said that Sharma is expecting a party ticket from the Sironj constituency, which he represented between 1993 and 2008. Despite being a powerful Brahmin face, Vyapam taint cost Sharma his seat in 2013 elections.
The fact that Sharma lost by just 1500 votes to Congress’ Govardhan Upadhyay in 2013 at the peak of the Vyapam scam shows his clout in the constituency.
With the BJP pitted against strong upper caste sentiments ahead of Assembly polls this year, sources also claim that if the BJP finds Sharma a risky proposition they can rope in his brother Umakant.
Political pundits believe that if the BJP doesn’t give Sharma a ticket he might fight the polls as an Independent.
This is not the first time Sharma has been seen with Chouhan. Last month, they were seen together in Vidisha and also went along to the Ganesh temple, where Chouhan is a frequent visitor.
Laxmikant Sharma was a potent force in the state BJP till 2014, when his name surfaced in many Vyapam related cases. He was arrested in June that year, the same month he quit the party.
In 2015, a year-and-a-half after his arrest, Sharma was granted bail by the MP high court. Thousands of his supporters had gathered outside the Bhopal Central Jail on the day of his release.