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Probity panel? Taint no bar

Bhopal, Jan. 29: If a political party’s probity monitors need to be above suspicion, nobody seems to have told the Madhya Pradesh Congress.

Of the 12 members appointed to the state party unit’s disciplinary committee yesterday, several have themselves been accused of improper conduct, involvement in scandals or deliberately harming the party’s interests.

Panel chief and former minister Chandra Prakash Shekhar is accused in a case with the police’s economic offences wing. It relates to how a mall was illegally built in Indore when Shekhar headed the state housing board.

Another inductee, former National Commission for the Scheduled Castes member Mahendra Bodh, had triggered controversy when he and Buta Singh, the then commission chairman, visited Mumbai in February 2010.

Their mandate was to look into Air India’s treatment of Dalit employees. According to media reports, the airline ended up spending Rs 5 lakh of the taxpayer’s money on their hospitality. Some reports said Bodh ran up a Rs 15,000 bill at a spa.

The disciplinary committee is meant to ensure ethical behaviour, loyalty and commitment to Congress ideology among party members. So, panel members are expected to have a track record of probity and loyalty.

But Pankaj Singhvi, appointed to the panel yesterday, had been expelled for a while for rebelling against the official Congress nominee in the 2008 Assembly polls.

Another member, Deepchand Yadav, was a Congress nominee from Bhopal in 2008 but lost tamely to the BJP amid allegations that he didn’t even try to win. Yadav also faces charges of factionalism.

Bhudhsen Patel has been a party-hopper. He was in the Bahujan Samaj Party in 1998 when he contested against Arjun Singh and caused his defeat by splitting the anti-BJP votes. Patel later defected to the Apna Dal before joining the Congress.