Kerala: Corruption web exposed, BJP leader accused in Rs 5.60 Cr bribe scam

Thiruvananthapuram:  A web of corruption exposed by the internal investigation team did not only implicate BJP politicians but also members of the medical fraternity.

A report has been filed by a two-member internal committee headed by K P Sreesan and A K Nazeer in May this year that investigated a case of alleged bribe being paid to a BJP leader for attaining recognition for a private medical college in the state.

However, no action was taken after the filing of the report and it came back to haunt the party after it was leaked from within the party allegedly by a party faction.

Following the leak of the report, the BJP has terminated the party membership of R S Vinod, the BJP convenor of cooperation cell. But from what the documents reveal, it is clear that Vinod is just one part of the corrupted system.

The probe committee recorded statements from six persons allegedly involved in the case–R Shaji, chairman of S R Educational and Charitable Trust, Varkala, R S Vinod, the BJP convenor of cooperation cell, Satish Nair, Delhi-based middleman, Kannadas, personal assistant to BJP MP Richard Hay and Rakesh Sivaraman, another middleman.

Background History:

A few months ago, R Shaji chairman of S R Educational and Charitable Trust, Varkala complained to the party that he had paid Rs 5.60 crore to R S Vinod, the BJP convenor of cooperation cell to get Medical Council of India (MCI) sanction for his medical college.

A report was filed listing the series of events that led to the complaint, immediately after an enquiry started in May 2017.

In his statement to the committee, Shaji says that when he could not get the required permission for his medical college, he had approached R S Vinod, to help him influence the MCI.

Vinod reportedly told Shaji about Satish Nair, a Delhi based middleman, who he said could influence the MCI. He also added that Satish had managed to gain recognition for several medical colleges in the past.

‘One Rakesh Sivaraman was introduced to him as the private secretary to the BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan and he introduced Shaji to Satish Nair,” said Shaji.

Vinod had demanded Rs 17 crore for securing MCI’s recognition to which Shaji handed over Rs 5.6 crore to Vinod, as a part of the total amount.

“Rakesh Sivaraman and Kannadas had also demanded Rs 15 lakhs each,” added Shaji.

“The money was paid through a Hawala dealer near Kochi,” Vinod said in his testimony to the committee.

However, to Shaji’s surprise when the MCI came for an inspection he was not granted the required permission and found that the money had not made its way to the MCI.

In his testimony, Vinod said that Rakesh Sivaraman and Kannadas had demanded Rs 15 lakhs each.

All agreed with money payment:

None of the parties involved denied that money changed hands. The probe committee said that Vinod admitted he had taken money from Shaji but had claimed that the deal was part of his “business” and not related to the party.

Satish Nair too admitted to receiving money, but said that since he did not receive the full amount he did not pursue the matter with MCI. Satish too said it was part of his consultancy business and had nothing to do with the party.

Rakesh Sivaraman in his testimony to the committee said that Shaji had approached him after he had already paid the Rs 5.6 crores and still did not get the MCI sanction. He said he got involved only because he wanted to help Shaji because it was a Hindu institution.

The report concluded that Rakesh had not gained any monetary benefit.

MT Ramesh’s role:

Immediately after the report got leaked, the name of BJP state general secretary M T Ramesh also started doing the rounds. His name had found its way into the report after the committee questioned Shaji about how he handed over such a large sum of money to Vinod.

But, he had his reply in his hands as he said ‘he was convinced after he was told that Satish Nair had been instrumental in getting recognition for several other medical colleges’. Shaji was told that even MT Ramesh had helped one Dr Nasar get MCI sanction for a medical college in Palakad.

Ramesh has denied any involvement saying that representatives of the Palakkad based medical college had met him once, but he turned down their request for using his political connections to ensure MCI’s permission.

How did it leak?

It has been speculated that factional feud within the BJP state unit led to the leak of the report to the media. The report comes at a time when the BJP which has only one member in the state assembly has been attempting to make inroads into the state.

Apart from feud, the report also reveals that the MCI which has been embroiled in several corruption cases in the past has failed to reign in such practices within its rank.