LUCKNOW/NEW DELHI: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday searched the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh premises of sacked Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader, Mr Babu Singh Kushwaha, now a BJP leader, for his alleged involvement in a multi-crore health scam.
The searches, which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said was politically motivated, were conducted in connection with alleged financial irregularities in the supply of medicines and medical equipment in the `10,000 crore National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam in Uttar Pradesh.
"Searches were conducted in 60 locations across Uttar Pradesh and Delhi," a CBI spokesperson said without divulging details.
The spokesperson said the CBI registered five new cases on Monday in connection with large-scale irregularities in the Uttar Pradesh health scam.
Mr Kushwaha, once a trusted lieutenant of the Chief Minister, Ms Mayawati and a former family welfare minister, was removed in April following his alleged involvement in the alleged financial embezzlement. He was sacked by the BSP chief from the party
BJP leader, Mr Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters in New Delhi that the timing of the search operation, which came a day after Mr Kushwaha joined the BJP, was suspect.
"The BJP is not a shield for corrupt people. But the CBI raids seem motivated. Why did the CBI take so long for carrying out searches," Mr Naqvi told reporters, as the political controversy intensified ahead of the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh beginning February.
The BJP leader alleged that the CBI action was "selective", as several other criminal cases and graft cases that the agency was probing remained stagnant, including those relating to the disproportionate wealth case against Ms Mayawati.
Earlier, the Congress slammed the BJP for welcoming the tainted former BSP leader in its fold saying the opposition party now stood exposed on its commitment to
"(The BJP) is inducting such corrupt people into the party. This shows how much commitment the party has in fighting corruption in the country," Congress’ Mr Rashid Alvi told reporters.
In Delhi, CBI sources said many houses and commercial establishments owned by Mr Kushwaha and his associates, including legislator, Mr Ram Chandra Pradhan, were searched in 12 districts, including Lucknow, Kanpur, Moradabad, Agra and Ghaziabad.
The residence and offices of the owners of the recently floated Hindi daily ‘Jan Sandesh’ were also searched. The office of the daily is in a 12,000 sq ft premises in Lucknow’s prime commercial hub, Hazratganj.
The sources said the CBI was inquiring the execution and implementation of the scheme and utilisation of funds since it was launched
The funds under the health scam were allocated to the state by the Union health ministry and have been spent through medical officers of 72 districts of the state.
The sources said Mr Kushwaha’s ‘benami’ properties in Mumbai were also under the CBI scanner. The CBI is also investigating the mysterious deaths of three chief medical officers who were closely linked with the implementation of the scheme.