The ACB’s tightening noose has ex-CM Gehlot in a sweat
By Rohit Parihar
On January 15, former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot made an unexpected appearance at the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) office in Jodhpur, demanding to meet two close associates who had been arrested for alleged irregularities in faculty recruitment at Jodhpur’s Jai Narayan Vyas University. Former MLA Jugal Kabra and the ex-university vice-chancellor Bhanwar Singh Rajpurohit, now out on bail, were part of the selection process.
Shaken by the developments, Gehlot promptly called for a bandh in hometown Jodhpur on January 24 to protest the arrests. Sources say the former CM apprehends further action against his close aides, including in the alleged Jodhpur Development Authority (JDA) scam, where just days before the 2013 assembly polls, tender values for construction works were hugely inflated to benefit contractors (the majority of the contracts, suspiciously, also pertain to his own constituency, Sardarpura). Rajendra Singh Solanki, the JDA chairman appointed by Gehlot, is already on the run.
The ACB chargesheet in the varsity case says Kabra wielded considerable influence because of his proximity to Gehlot who was CM when the recruitments were done between 2011 and 2013.
Many see Gehlot’s bandh call and the threats to ACB officers about “repercussions” as evidence of a growing panic that the bureau’s action could severely dent his image. Arch-rival and PCC president Sachin Pilot is already the Congress’s CM candidate for the polls next year.
NO MARKS Ex-MLA Jugal Kabra, third from left, after his arrest by the ACB