As former Union minister P. Chidambaram faces arrest for alleged corruption in the INX Media case, it is worth remembering that Chidambaram was the home minister when Amit Shah was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation on charges of murder in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. Today, Amit Shah is the home minister.
Since 2014, the Narendra Modi government has been relentlessly pursuing corruption allegations against opposition leaders. Raids and summons intensify especially when an election is around the corner. But this is not a fight against corruption because if it was one, it wouldn’t spare BJP leaders accused of corruption.
The selective nature of this ‘anti-corruption’ agenda makes it a witch-hunt. This witch-hunt stands in sharp contrast to the Modi government’s refusal to have the controversial Rafale deal investigated, or to the manner in which it dragged its feet over appointing a Lokpal for five years.
Here are some politicians the CBI and other investigating agencies have been soft on, despite corruption charges against them.
1. B.S. Yediyurappa: He has become Karnataka’s chief minister again despite being the very image of corruption in Karnataka. Accused in land and mining scams, with diaries recovered from his possession showing hefty amounts being paid to top BJP leaders, judges and advocates, Yediyurappa today stands tall, acquitted of most of the charges. The same CBI that was investigating him for years couldn’t furnish enough evidence against him when the Modi government came to power. The Supreme Court might yet order investigations against him in a land scam.
2. Reddy brothers of Bellary: Before the Karnataka elections in 2018, the CBI quickly concluded its investigations into mining scams worth Rs 16,500 crore against the Bellary brothers without pursuing the cases to their logical ends. For such audacious plundering of India’s wealth, the Modi government let the Bellary brothers go scot-free because the BJP needs them to win A forest service officer who was the whistleblower in this case was sacked by the Modi government earlier this month.
3. Himanta Biswa Sarma: The Amit Shah of the Northeast, as he is called, Himanta Biswa Sarma was once a member of the Congress party and faced corruption charges. The BJP had waged a full campaign, even releasing a booklet, accusing Sarma of being the “key suspect” in the water supply scam in Guwahati. The scam is known as the Louis Berger case because of the involvement of the American construction management company. There’s even a chargesheet by the US Department of Justice under the country’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, alleging that the company paid bribes to an unnamed minister. From claiming that the minister was Sarma to inducting him into the party, the BJP came a long way. The Assam government has predictably gone slow on the investigations, and the BJP hasn’t followed up with its own old demand to hand over the case to the CBI.
4. Shivraj Singh Chouhan: The CBI in 2017 gave then-Madhya Pradesh chief minister a clean chit in the Vyapam scam. Would Shivraj Singh Chouhan have gotten away had he been a member of the Congress? A huge entrance exam scam, it has seen whistleblowers and witnesses die mysteriously one after another, more than 40 by some media estimates.
5. Mukul Roy: As the BJP needed to expand its organisational base in West Bengal, it inducted scam-tainted Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy in its fold. Roy joined the party soon after the Enforcement Directorate had summoned him in the Narada ‘sting’ case, an undercover operation by a local news channel that showed several other top TMC leaders accepting bribes. Roy is also an accused in the Saradha chit fund scam. The law, he says, will take its own course. Somehow, the law’s course towards him has slowed in its pace since he joined the BJP.
6. Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’: He is India’s minister for human resource development. As Uttarakhand chief minister, he was at the centre of two big scams: one regarding land and the other regarding hydro-electric projects. The image of his regime, which was hit by various corruption cases, was so bad that the BJP forced him to resign in 2011. Of course, neither the CBI nor the Uttarakhand government is in any hurry to get to the bottom of the corruption charges. Far from being investigated, Ramesh Pokhriyal now holds an important portfolio in Modi’s
7. Narayan Rane: The BJP last year inducted former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane into the party and made him a Rajya Sabha MP. The CBI and the ED are no longer rushing to investigate Rane or raid his properties. Rane has been accused of money laundering and land scams. His is the “first family of controversies” in Maharashtra politics.
Views are personal.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.