Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel’s decision to acquire a cash-strapped privately owned medical college has raised questions of conflict of interest. The Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Hospital (CCMH) that is at the helm of the controversy is owned by the family into which Baghel’s daughter has married.
As per reports, the Chhattisgarh government is working on a Bill to acquire this medical college located in Durg. The medical college owned by Chandulal Chandrakar Memorial Hospital (CCMH) is an unlisted private company, registered in March 1997. The Bill to take over control of this college is slated to be presented in the upcoming state assembly session.
Baghel, however, took to Twitter to dismiss the claims and said the move is to safeguard the future of several students. This will help save time to build a new medical college and the state will get 150 new doctors every year, said his Tweet.
चंदूलाल चंद्राकर मेडिकल कॉलेज पर प्रकाशित एक समाचार पर तरह तरह के कयास लगाए जा रहे हैं। वे सब निराधार है।— Bhupesh Baghel (@bhupeshbaghel) July 27, 2021
यह प्रदेश के एक मेडिकल कॉलेज और सैकड़ों छात्रों के भविष्य को बचाने का प्रयास है।
इससे एक नया मेडिकल कॉलेज बनाने का समय बचेगा व हर साल प्रदेश को डेढ़ सौ डॉक्टर मिलेंगे।
In his next Tweet, Baghel claimed that he has always done transparent politics.”As far as kinship and vested interests are concerned, I want to tell the people of my state that Bhupesh Baghel is responsible to him and he has always done politics with transparency, there will always be transparency in the government. If the deal is done then everything will be clear,” he said in his Tweet.
जहां तक रिश्तेदारी और निहित स्वार्थ का सवाल है तो मैं अपने प्रदेश की जनता को यह बताना चाहता हूं कि भूपेश बघेल उसके प्रति उत्तरदायी है और उसने हमेशा पारदर्शिता के साथ राजनीति की है, सरकार में भी हमेशा पारदर्शिता ही होगी। सौदा होगा तो सब कुछ साफ हो जाएगा।— Bhupesh Baghel (@bhupeshbaghel) July 27, 2021
Ending the thread Baghel said that the controversy created is baseless and that he does not believe in selling public property like “them”.
यह खबर कल्पनाशीलता की पराकाष्ठा से उपजा विवाद है। जिसे मैं चुनौती देता हूं।— Bhupesh Baghel (@bhupeshbaghel) July 27, 2021
अगर जनहित का सवाल होगा तो सरकार निजी मेडिकल कॉलेज भी ख़रीदेगी और नगरनार का संयंत्र भी।
हम सार्वजनिक क्षेत्र के पक्षधर लोग हैं और रहेंगे।
हम उनकी तरह जनता की संपत्ति बेच नहीं रहे हैं।
About the Bill
As per The Indian Express that had access to the draft of the Bill, the hospital had requested the state government to acquire the college since it was in “financial difficulties”. The Bill in its ‘Statement of Object and Reasons’ noted that many students are studying in medical college. Hence, the state government is satisfied that an “immediate acquisition” is “necessary in the public interest”.
As per the draft, while the liabilities of the college will be that of the owners of CCMH, the state will undertake a valuation exercise of the movable and immovable assets of the college and pay the amount to CCMH.
A Special Officer has been proposed to be appointed who will get a year to submit the valuation of the college’s properties to the government.
The college’s current director is Mangal Prasad Chandrakar. CM Baghel’s daughter Divya Baghel is married to his brother Vijay Chandrakar’s son Kshitij.
CCMH accused of ‘fraudulent activities’
The report by Indian Express further stated that the bureaucrats dealing with the files and Bill seem to be uncomfortable with the entire arrangement. The three red flags raised by the officials reveals:
- 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
- The college does not even have recognition since 2017
CCMH officials favor the Bill
Kshitij Chandrakar, son-in-law of Baghel, who heads the All India Professional Congress unit in the state acknowledged that MP Chandrakar is his uncle. He has said, “The brothers (his father Vijay and uncle Mangal Prasad) had an amicable separation around 6-7 years ago.”
Laxman Chandrakar, Executive Director, CCMH, and also a shareholder said, “This is not a hidden fact that we have debts on us. We requested the government to save the college.”
However, Amit Chandraker a member closely related to Chandulal Chandrakar accused the government of nepotism. “The Chief Minister is trying to benefit his (daughter’s) in-laws by making a new law,” Amit alleged.
About the college
The hospital was promoted in the memory of Chandulal Chandrakar who was a Congress leader, a five-term Lok Sabha MP from Durg, and a Union minister in the past. He died in 1995. The current Director of CCMH is Mangal Prasad Chandrakar who is one of the 59 shareholders, holding about 4% of the company.
As per the report, the company’s total debt for the year-ended March 31, 2020, stood at Rs 125.26 crore. Out of this 43 per cent or Rs 53.81 crore accounted for unsecured loans.
BJP lashes out Baghel
Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia attacked Baghel for trying to save his son-in-law’s family business. “Bhupesh Baghel is trying to buy his son-in-law’s private college from government funds to save it. The state money is used for his son-in-law, a medical college that was accused of fraud by the Medical Council of India. The definition of who is bikau (salable) and who is tikau (sustainable) is now clear!” he Tweeted.
भूपेश बघेल अपने दामाद का निजी महाविद्यालय बचाने के लिए उसे सरकारी कोष से खरीदने की कोशिश में हैं।प्रदेश की राशि का उपयोग अपने दामाद के लिए,वो भी एक ऐसा मेडिकल कॉलेज जिस पर धोखाधड़ी के आरोप मडिकल कौंसिल ऑफ़ इंडिया द्वारा लगाए गए थे।कौन बिकाऊ है और कौन टिकाऊ,इसकी परिभाषा अब साफ है!— Jyotiraditya M. Scindia (@JM_Scindia) July 27, 2021
This was also in response to Baghel’s recent sly attack on him for ditching the Congress and joining the BJP. Baghel had called Scindia ‘bikau’ meaning ‘for sale’.