New Delhi, Mar 3: CBI today arrested Babu Singh Kushwaha, a former minister in the Mayawati government, and ruling BSP MLA Ram Prasad Jaiswal in the first action against politicians in the multi-crore NRHM scam in Uttar Pradesh.
The arrest of Kushwaha, who crossed over to BJP after being sacked as Family Welfare minister, and Jaiswal here came on a day when the crucial seven-phased Assembly elections in UP concluded. Kushwaha, who was expelled by BSP last December, is one of the prime accused in the scam.
The total number of arrests in the scam relating to alleged swindling of over Rs 10,000 crore central funds allocated to UP under the National Rural Health Mission(NRHM) has risen to 12 after it was unearthed over a year back.
Kushwaha and Jaiswal were produced before a special CBI court in Ghaziabad which has sent them to CBI remand for 10 days, CBI sources said.
BJP charged that the arrest of Kushwaha on the day of conclusion of polling in UP showed Congress is misusing CBI to serve its ends.
“BJP has right from the beginning maintained that CBI is no longer an intelligence and investigating agency but is working as the Congress Bureau of Investigation. Kushwaha's arrest shows that the Congress Headquarters decide when, where and how a person will be arrested,” party spokesperson Jagat Prakash Nadda said.
After the arrest, BJP demanded there should be a “top-to-bottom” investigation into the NRHM scam.
“CBI has not taken action against the chief conspirators in this case who are moving around freely. An impartial inquiry should be conducted and action should be taken against those involved in the scam,” Nadda said.
The party also demanded a thorough investigation into the death of five people related to the NRHM scam.
“Congress is taking action against those who do not suit its politics,” Nadda said, adding all those named in the scam should be investigated. He also questioned the timing of the arrest.
CBI called Kushwaha and Jaiswal at its headquarters here today for detailed questioning. Both arrived at about 11 am and were grilled for about four hours before being arrested by the agency.
“Prima facie, the agency has found offences of criminal misconduct and conspiracy on the part of the then Minister (Family Welfare) Kushwaha, the then Principal Secretary(Family Welfare) Pradeep Shukla and officials at various levels with private contractors and vendors,” sources said.
“Huge cash payments were allegedly made by private supplier to the then Minister and his associates in lieu of these contracts. An approximate loss of Rs 5.46 crore was found to have been caused to government exchequer in the said case,” CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra said.
So far, CBI has arrested 10 persons, including a retired Director General (Family Welfare) S P Ram, General Manager of a state PSU (Construction and Design Services (Subsidiary of Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam) P K Jain and retired MD of state PSU Shreetron India Ltd G K Batra.
The CBI asked for a 15-day custody of Kushwaha and Jaiswal. However, Ajay Vikram Singh, counsel of Kushwaha argued against the CBI's demand, and said there was a threat to his former minister's life.
Additional District Judge A K Singh heard the arguments of both sides and reserved the order for half-an-hour. Later he remanded both the accused in CBI remand for 10 days.
When the judge asked Kushwaha about his role in the alleged scam, he replied, “I had no role as all the key decisions were taken by the Chief Minister herself. There were three committees for the NHRM, two were under chief secretary and one under Chief Minister. All the Committee meetings were chaired by the CM.
“I had a complaint about some irregularity from Azamgarh district, and we were investigating it. The NHRM fiasco was already going on before I became minister.”
Jaiswal, in his defence said that he had three companies and the money deposited in his account were from his share trading and not from the scam.
“The CBI is framing me just because I am a friend of Kushwaha. Till the time Kushwaha was in BSP he was my friend, but now he is not,” Jaiswal said.
Jaiswal's counsel told the court that CBI was threating his client to confess.
The judge also ordered for providing medical aid to Kushwaha, as his advocate had argued for it.