Opposition slams misuse of CBI, ED in letter to PM
Deccan Chronicle.| L Venkat Ram Reddy
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao. (Photo:Twitter)
Hyderabad: Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao was part of an Opposition team, including three other Chief Ministers, who wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in condemnation of the Central government misusing central investigative agencies to quell dissenters.
Taking strong issue with the arrest of former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in the Delhi liquor scam case, the leaders questioned the Prime Minister if India had become an autocracy.
"Blatant misuse of central agencies against the members of the Opposition appeared to suggest that the country had transitioned from being a democracy to an autocracy," the letter stated.
The letter highlighted several incidents of central agencies, such as the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate, repeatedly targeting Opposition leaders to erase their credibility in the public eye.
"Out of the key politicians booked, arrested, raided or interrogated by the investigation agencies under your administration since 2014, the maximum belongs to the Opposition," the letter read.
The signatories to the latter included Chief Ministers Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamul Congress, Arvind Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann of the Aam Aadmi Party. Others were Bihar Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD, Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference, Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party, Uddhav Thackeray of Shiv Sena-UBT and Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party.
Terming Sisodia’s arrest on February 26 a "witch-hunt", done "without a shred of evidence against him," the letter stated: "The allegations against Sisodia are outrightly baseless and smack of a political conspiracy."
"Interestingly, investigation agencies go slow in cases against Opposition politicians who join the BJP. For example, former Congress member and current Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was probed by the CBI and the ED in 2014 and 2015 over the Saradha Chit Fund scam. However, the case didn’t progress after he joined the BJP," the letter read.
"Former TMC leaders Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy were under the ED and CBI scanner in the Narada sting operation case but the cases didn’t progress after they joined the BJP... There are many such examples, including that of Narayan Rane of Maharashtra," the letter stated.
"Be it Lalu Prasad Yadav (Rashtriya Janata Dal), Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena), Azam Khan (Samajwadi Party), Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh (NCP) or Abhishek Banerjee (TMC), central agencies have often sparked suspicion that they were working as extended wings of the ruling dispensation at the Centre. In many such cases, the timings of the cases lodged or arrests made have coincided with elections, making it abundantly clear that they were politically motivated," the letter read.
"The manner in which prominent members of the Opposition have been targeted lends credence to the allegation that your government is using investigating agencies to target or eliminate the Opposition. The list of the agencies your government has been accused of using against the Opposition isn’t limited to the Enforcement Directorate," the Opposition leaders said in the letter.
"It is clear that these agencies have their priorities misplaced. Following the publication of an international forensic financial research report, SBI and LIC have reportedly lost over `78,000 crore in market capitalisation of their shares due to exposure to a certain firm. Why have the central agencies not been pressed into service to investigate the firm's financial irregularities despite the public money at stake?" they said, in reference to the Adani Group, without mentioning it by name.
They also alleged that Governors were being used by the BJP in "a war" against federalism.
Pointing to Governors of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal, Telangana and the Lt Governor of Delhi, the letter said: "The offices of the Governors across the country are acting in violation of the constitutional provisions and frequently hindering the governance of the state. They are wilfully undermining democratically-elected state governments and choosing, instead, to obstruct governance as per their whims and fancies."
"The misuse of central agencies and constitutional offices like that of the Governor to settle scores outside of the electoral battlefield is strongly condemnable as it does not bode well for our democracy. The manner in which these agencies have been used since 2014 has tarnished their image and raised questions about their autonomy and impartiality. The faith of the people of India in these agencies continues to erode," they stated.