Anand Rai. Picture by Saeed Faruqui
Bhopal, July 8: The switch from the BJP to the AAP took him just six years. Now the buzz is about his future "ties" with the Congress.
The scanner is on Anand Rai, the man who blew the whistle on what has come to be known as the Vyapam scam, a scandal that relates to allegations of bribery and impersonation in exams conducted to fill medical seats and recruit government staff.
Rai, who says he cannot see injustice taking place, insists the rumours of his alleged association with the Congress are false, but the 38-year-old, a medical doctor by training, does come across as a curious mix: of activism, opportunism and political inclination.
Rai was a full-time BJP activist between 2005 and 2007 and even held a post in the party's "doctors' cell" when Satyanarayan Jatiya headed the Madhya Pradesh unit. After the Aam Aadmi Party rose in Delhi in 2013, Rai was inspired enough to lobby Arvind Kejriwal's rookie outfit for a Lok Sabha ticket for the national elections the following year.
He didn't succeed in getting one.
Yesterday, on primetime TV, Rai's past came under scrutiny when BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra accused the Indore resident of being a "Congress agent".
Even as Times Now anchor Arnab Goswami tried to intervene, Patra alleged that criminal cases had been registered against Rai in Indore.
When Rai protested, Goswami offered Patra an avenue to apologise, but the BJP spokesman remained defiant.
Madhya Pradesh BJP spokesperson Hitesh Bajpai recalled meeting Rai at several party meetings in Indore and Bhopal. "He wanted to become an office bearer and even produced recommendation letters from influential party leaders from Indore. We found him smart and articulate," Bajpai said.
Rai does not hide his past political affiliations but says the "rumours" about his "association" with the Congress are false. "They (the BJP) cannot stomach it as I have successfully exposed them," he told The Telegraph. "Yes, it was true that I was in the BJP and the RSS. I attended several RSS-BJP meets and I have I-cards to prove that. But my upbringing is such that I cannot see injustice, fraud and wrongdoing taking place."
He claims that admissions in professional colleges in Madhya Pradesh have always been dubious and says he got an inkling when he sat for the medical exam in 1994. The question paper had been leaked that year and the exam had to be held again.
"A medical college professor was accused of the leak. A year later, somebody pumped 40 bullets into him," he said.
Rai says state police had filed over 30 cases of cheating and impersonation in medical entrance exams before the Vyapam scam came to light but claims that successive Congress and BJP governments turned a blind eye. "It is a criminal nexus of politicians, bureaucrats, police officers, students, teachers, agents, brokers - everyone is involved," he said.
In 2005, the year he appeared for the postgraduate exam, Rai said he detected a strange pattern in the top 10 list. "All the top 10 were sons and daughters and relatives of successful officials and police officers. It was all very fishy. Then I found that the top rankers even lived in the same medical school hostel. We protested and demanded a probe, but nothing happened."
In 2011, Rai became a full-time campaigner against drug trials and filed a series of RTI applications. Replying to his RTI applications, the office of the Drug Controller-General of India, New Delhi, sought an explanation from the Madhya Pradesh government's medical education department.
Rai earned the crusader's tag in 2013 when he tipped off the police about the presence of a large number of exam impersonators in different hotels in Indore. The city crime branch conducted raids and arrested four alleged impersonators.
A report was later forwarded to the special task force, which began investigating the Vyapam scam.