Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel is again caught up in a controversy. The Chhattisgarh government is planning to take over a private medical college by bringing in a law that will enable the government to acquire the financially-strapped Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Medical College.
The unusual move by the state government has triggered a massive controversy as the said college is owned by Baghel’s son-in-law and it looks like the proposed move is nothing but a dowry for his daughter.
CM Baghel’s daughter Divya is married to Kshitij Chandrakar. Kshitij’s father Vijay Chandrakar is the younger brother of Mangal Prasad Chandrakar, the Director of CCMH. If the Baghel government acquires this medical college then Mangal Chandrakar, the Director of the college, will not have to repay the loan. Also, the college will be given the state university tag.
According to the report by The Indian Express, the draft Bill says that the hospital requested the state government to acquire the college as it has been facing ‘financial difficulties’. The draft bill also noted that there are many students in the college and that the state government is satisfied that an immediate acquisition is necessary in the public interest.
Taking a deep dive, the Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Medical College is located in Durg and is owned by Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Hospital (CCMH), an unlisted private company registered in March 1997. Chandulal Chandrakar was a Congress leader, a five-time Lok Sabha MP and a former Union minister. He passed away in 1995. Now, Mangal Prasad Chandrakar is the Director of CCMH and is one of the 59 shareholders, holding about 4 per cent of the company.
Meanwhile, BJP has hit out at Bhupesh Baghel over the controversial move. Slamming the Congress party over the move, Union Minister Piyush Goyal tweeted, “The Congress family has a vast history of corruption. Misusing public money for acquiring a debt-ridden college is sheer fraud. The hard-earned money of the people of Chhattisgarh is not for corruption, but for the development of the state.”
भ्रष्टाचार का इतिहास अपार, डूबे रहते कांग्रेसी परिवारः कर्ज में डूबे कॉलेज का अधिग्रहण कर जनता के पैसे का दुरुपयोग करना सरासर धोखा है।
छत्तीसगढ की जनता की गाढी कमाई भ्रष्टाचार की भेंट चढाने के लिये नही, बल्कि राज्य के विकास के लिये है।https://t.co/hrKLmmF66q
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) July 27, 2021
On February 2, Baghel had tweeted, “The work to acquire the private hospital under the government will start soon.”
दुर्ग जिले में संचालित निजी मेडिकल कॉलेज, चंदूलाल चंद्राकार मेमोरियल मेडिकल कॉलेज के अधिग्रहण की घोषणा करता हूँ।
इस निजी मेडिकल कॉलेज के शासकीय अधिग्रहण की कार्यवाही शीघ्र आरंभ होगी। इससे इस कॉलेज को नई संजीवनी मिलेगी।
— Bhupesh Baghel (@bhupeshbaghel) February 2, 2021
Some bureaucrats involved in the decision find the move inconvenient and raised three specific issues that include:
- CCMH’s total outstanding debt is Rs 125 crore, of which a large part is unsecured;
- The medical college being acquired was accused of ‘fraudulent’ activities by the Medical Council of India in its meeting on April 12, 2018, and
- The college has remained unrecognsied since 2017.
Kshitij Chandrakar, son-in-law of Baghel, who heads the All India Professional Congress unit in the state, said, “The brothers (his father Vijay and uncle Mangal Prasad) had an amicable separation around 6-7 years ago.”
“If the government is getting a functional college at a price much less than what they would pay to build a new college, while also helping out the students, it is a good and welcome decision,” he added.
Laxman Chandrakar, Executive Director, CCMH, and also a shareholder (3.75%) said the company’s board of directors said, “This is not a hidden fact that we have debts on us. We requested the government to save the college.”
This is not the first time Baghel has been involved in a controversy. Earlier this month, as reported by TFI, Baghel has been involved in a power struggle in Chhattisgarh. There were speculations that Baghel could be replaced by TS Singh Deo, as when Congress came to power in Chhattisgarh in December 2018, the party made an agreement for the rotational leadership with the initial two and a half years for Baghel and the rest for Deo. But, Baghel seems unwilling to vacate the chair and the Gandhis want to deploy him in Uttar Pradesh.
Baghel is an OBC leader of the state and belongs to the Kurmi caste. He won the election from Patan constituency (Durg) in 2018 and replaced Raman Singh to become the CM of Chhattisgarh. Well, the strategic move by Chhattisgarh CM is no less than killing two birds with one stone. The state government gets to acquire the functioning college and on the other hand, personal relations will flourish even more.