Opposition corners BJP on a viral purported conversation about the Haryana staff selection commission chairman taking bribes for jobs.
Chandigarh: Haryana’s BJP government of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar is facing an opposition onslaught over allegations the chairman of the state’s staff selection commission (HSSC), Bharat Bhushan Bharti, was doling out posts for bribes.
At the centre of the row is a 14-minute audio clip where Pehowa municipal committee chairman Ashok Singla is purportedly heard telling former state minister Balbir Saini of the BJP that he had paid Bharti’s son Rs 45 lakh for the job.
Bharti’s son allegedly took an additional Rs 10 lakh each from three people for appointment as members of the committee. The clip emerged last month, but the issue was raised by the leader of the opposition in the assembly, Abhay Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), in the house Monday.
Following two straight days of opposition protests in the assembly over the issue, Khattar Tuesday announced in the house that the director general of the Haryana vigilance bureau would conduct an investigation into the allegations and complete it within one month. He, however, rejected the INLD’s demand for a CBI probe, and the Congress’ for a house inquiry.
In the clip, when Singla tells Saini about the bribe, the latter is heard asking how and where the money was handed over, following which the municipal committee chairman details the transaction.
The two also talk about the general perception that the HSSC is giving out jobs for money. When Saini says the chief minister will be upset to know about this, Singla tells him not to give him a “lecture”. To the BJP leader’s question whether he would ever go public with the information, Singla replies he wouldn’t ever admit paying money for the job, even if he turns against the party.
Saini says at one point: “Should I tell (state cabinet minister O.P.) Dhankar about this? My blood is boiling that this (corruption) is going on.”
The former state minister has acknowledged the conversation, saying it happened a year ago. “It is indeed my voice and the conversation is correct. But I have not made the audio viral,” he said. “The issue should have been discussed within the party, not made public.”
Bharti has said the conversation involves Singla and Saini and he was thus not concerned about it. “No one in my family has taken money. I have been assigned a job and I have been doing it with utmost transparency,” he added.
CM urges caution
Chief minister Khattar informed the house that after the clip went viral, another emerged in which Singla is heard denying the bribe and claiming that he was drunk and forced to say all that he had said as part of a bid to defame him. Announcing a probe, Khattar said, however, that such audio clips could lead to false allegations on social media every day. “A person cannot be treated as guilty till a probe is held,” he added.
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