New Delhi/Kolkata/Bhopal: Amid mounting outrage over the Vyapam deaths, Opposition on Monday sharpened its attack on Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, demanding his sacking over "cold-blooded murders" but BJP backed its beleagured leader and disfavoured the state ordering a CBI probe.
Congress, the Left and AAP also brought in Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the line of fire, questioning his silence on the "sordid affair".
"Shivraj Singh Chouhan should be sacked and an impartial probe should be done in the Vyapam scam," Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala said in Delhi.
Former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram insisted that Madhya Pradesh government recommend a CBI investigation before the "next unnatural death", stressing the "buck stops with the Executive".
Congress spokesperson P C Chacko said the "Chief Minister cannot be spared and should take responsibility" along with the Prime Minister.
"Prime Minister should explain and take moral responsibility for what is happening in the country," he said addressing reporters at the Congress headquarters.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was said to be warming up to the Prime Minister, "condemned" the deaths and said her party TMC will raise the issue in Parliament.
"It is not merely a law and order issue. It is something bigger than that. So many killings have taken place. Many people are involved. It is cold-blooded murders," Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress chief, said in Kolkata.
"The Trinamool Congress will raise its voice against Vyapam scam in Parliament. I strongly condemn the incident. It should be investigated under the monitoring of the Supreme Court," she said.
Amid calls for handing over the probe to CBI, BJP said it was not averse to such an inquiry but the decision will have to come from the Madhya Pradesh High Court, which is monitoring the case.
"Why should we ask the high court to order a CBI or any other probe? The court-appointed SIT is probing the case and it is reporting directly to the high court. The court is seized of the matter and can decide whatever it wishes. We have no issues with any sort of investigation," senior BJP leaders said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
BJP leaders have claimed that since the registration of the FIR in July 2013, over 55 cases have been lodged and close to 2000 of the 2500 accused arrested in various Vyapam scam cases.
They said none from the families of the deceased persons had alleged any foul play, except in one case where an accused lodged in a Gwalior jail died under mysterious circumstances.
"Even in the journalist's death, the state government accepted all demands of his family, including post-mortem by a panel of doctors and video-recording of the exercise," they said.