New Delhi: Calling the arrest of AAP minister Manish Sisodia in connection with the Delhi Excise Policy case a ‘long witch-hunt’, nine Opposition leaders have written to the central government, alleging “misuse of central agencies” which has “tarnished their image” and brought their ‘autonomy and impartiality’ into question, ANI reported.
The signatories are Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (AAP), Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao (BRS), West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (TMC), Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann (AAP), National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray, Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav, and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav (RJD).
Congress, however, has remained silent on the matter.
The CBI arrested Manish Sisodia on the evening of 26 February for alleged corruption in making and implementing the liquor policy for 2021-22, which has since been rolled back. Sisodia was put on judicial remand until 4 March. This was later extended by two days because the CBI said he was “not cooperating”.
The letter addressed to PM Narendra Modi states, “The blatant misuse of central agencies against the members of the Opposition appears to suggest that we have transitioned from being a democracy to an autocracy.”
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The letter takes a veiled dig at the central government for their being no action following the Hindenburg report on alleged fraud by Adani Group companies, and says the government has “misplaced priorities”.
It asks, “Why have the central agencies not been pressed into service to investigate the firm’s financial irregularities despite the public money at stake?”
It adds that Sisodia was arrested by the CBI after a ‘long witch-hunt’ even though there wasn’t a single piece of evidence against him.
“The allegations against Sisodia are out rightly baseless and smack of a political conspiracy…Sisodia is recognised globally for transforming Delhi’s school education. His arrest will be cited worldwide as an example of a political witch-hunt and further confirm what the world was only suspecting-that India’s democratic values stand threatened under an authoritarian BJP regime,” the letter states.
Questioning why action against BJP leaders by investigating agencies seems to be “slow”, the letter alleges that “since 2014, the maximum (no. of leaders under investigation) belong to the Opposition. Interestingly, agencies go slow on cases against Opposition politicians who join the BJP.”
“Former Congress member and current Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma was probed by the CBI and the ED in 2014 and 2015 over Saradha chit fund scam. However, after he joined the BJP, the case did not progress. Similarly, 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 BJP ahead of the assembly polls in the state.”
Attack on Opposition
Since 2014, there has been a clear increase in the number of raids, charges, and arrests of Opposition leaders, the letter adds.
“Be it Lalu Prasad Yadav (Rashtriya Janata Dal), Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena)….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,” it says.
It also attacks governors across the country for “wilfully undermining democratically-elected state governments and choosing instead to obstruct governance as per their whims and fancies”, stating that “a war was being waged against the country’s federalism” and that the governors have become “the face of widening rift between the central government and states run by the non-BJP government.”
(Edited by Zinnia Ray)
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