He is an ophthalmologist by training and works for the Madhya Pradesh government as a medical officer at a hospital in Indore. Dr Anand Rai, however, is better known for his crusade against corruption.
He blew the whistle on the “Vyapam Scam” — a scam involving the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (Vyabsayik Pariksha Mandal or Vyapam) and a number of tests it conducted for recruitment to government jobs and admission to medical and other professional courses in government institutions.
Rai tells Anirban Bhaumik of DH why he is now ready to join electoral politics and contest the forthcoming Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh.
Which Assembly constituency are you planning to contest? Will you contest as an independent candidate or as a nominee of any political party?
I am planning to contest from the Indore-5 Assembly constituency. I will contest under the banner of Jay Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS), which has of late emerged as a new voice of not only the tribal youths but also the victims of corruption and injustice. But the JAYS are currently holding talks with the Congress. We are ready to contest the election as Congress candidates, as we do not want the anti-BJP votes to get divided. Our main objective is to oust the BJP from power.
Why did you decide to join politics?
I believe if anyone at the top of the system is responsible for the Vyapam Scam, it is Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Though many other people responsible for the scam are now behind bars, Chouhan still remains the chief minister. In the past 10 years, I have learnt that we must get into the system and fight against corruption from within to root out the menace. I have realised political power is important to fight corruption.
Are you not satisfied with the progress and outcome of the Vyapam scam probe?
Not at all. Almost three years ago the CBI was asked to probe about 170 cases related to the scam, but it is yet to file charge-sheet in nearly 50 cases. Rakesh Asthana was in charge of the probe as director of the CBI, but he himself has now been accused of corruption. It was under his watch that the CBI gave a clean chit to Chouhan.
Chouhan led the BJP to victory in 2008 and 2013 Assembly elections in MP. Why do you think people reposed faith in him despite allegations of corruption against him?
He could win the 2013 elections because the Congress could not cash in on the Vyapam scam. Why would people vote for an Opposition party, which had made corruption as a poll issue, but still fielded criminals or wealthy businessmen? In 2013, apart from seeking re-election from his pocket borough Budhni, Chouhan also contested from Vidisha. Why does he always play safe if he believes he is a leader of the masses? I challenge him to contest against me from Indore-5 this time.
How did you get disillusioned with the RSS and the BJP?
I once viewed the RSS as a nationalist organisation and the BJP as a party with a difference. But when Ashis Chaturvedi (another whistleblower of the Vyapam Scam) and I exposed the Vyapam scam, the RSS and the BJP did not stand by us. They defended Chouhan. The RSS initially kept on sending messages asking us to lie low for some time and promising us that they would get Chouhan removed from the office. I, however, realised soon that although they spoke about fighting corruption only when and where they were not in power. But, once in power, they would change their policies and would not mind defending the corrupt.
What are the other issues you want to highlight while contesting the elections?
Apart from corruption, I would like to highlight the plight of the farmers, growing unemployment and rampant violation of the rights of the tribal people and atrocities on Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe in the past 15 years of the BJP's rule in Madhya Pradesh.