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CBI probe against Manish Sisodia: BJP turns caged parrot into hunting hound

Charu Kartikeya | Updated on: 11 February 2017, 5:46 IST

It's difficult not to see politics in the CBI registering a preliminary enquiry against Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. The alleged offence took place months ago, in July 2016, while the PE has been registered now when Sisodia's Aam Aadmi Party is running the BJP close in at least two of the five impending electoral contests - Goa and Punjab

The PE was registered against Sisodia and "unnamed Delhi officials" on 18 January in connection with alleged irregularities in the organisation of "Talk to AK" social media campaign, held last July. The move appears to be one of several parting gifts from former Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, who had a running battle with the AAP government of Arvind Kejriwal. It was during his tenure that this case was referred to the CBI, based on a report submitted by the Shunglu panel, appointed by Jung.

Another PE was registered the same day against Saumya Jain, the daughter of Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain. The agency will probe her appointment as an adviser to the Delhi government for the Mohalla Clinic project. That the PEs have followed the Delhi police's action against a dozen AAP legislators - some of them were even arrested - clearly shows that the BJP is misusing the various agencies at its disposal to unsettle the AAP regime. The Delhi police is controlled by the central government.

Also Read: From misbehaving with women to rioting, here's why AAP leaders keep going to jail

Apart from the ruling party MLAs, the CBI last year also arrested the Delhi government's top bureaucrat, Rajender Kumar, in an alleged corruption case. Kumar, former principal secretary to the chief minister, has now alleged that he was pressured by the CBI to implicate Kejriwal. "During interrogation, I was repeatedly told that I would be let free if I implicated the chief minister of Delhi," Kumar claimed in a letter to the Delhi government, requesting for voluntary retirement. He also alleged that CBI officials even beat up several people to force them to implicate him and Kejriwal.

The Narendra Modi regime hasn't taken cognisance of Kumar's allegations, while the CBI has, obviously, denied them.

The points to the misuse of the CBI by the BJP to intimidate its political rivals. The agency has come a long way since it was labelled as a "caged parrot" by the Supreme Court four years ago. It appears to have evolved from a parrot into a hunting hound of the ruling party, unleashed upon opponents to scare or even hurt them.

What more proof is required of the Modi regime's intention to maintain absolute control over the agency than the undue delay in the appointment of its director. Anil Sinha retired as the CBI chief more than a month ago but the government is yet to appoint a full-time director in his place. Instead, it made Rakesh Asthana, who is seen as being close to Modi and Amit Shah, as the acting director. Now, when the process is on to find a full-time director, the government is keen on an officer with whom the opposition is not satisfied. Clearly, the BJP regime wants a pliant officer to head the agency who will do its bidding.

AAP, though, has taken the attack on its chin, with Sisodia daring Modi to send the CBI to his home and office.

Kejriwal was more aggressive in his response. He lashed out at Modi, accusing him of filing false cases against AAP leaders while indulging in corruption himself. The reference was to the Sahara-Birla bribery case, which Kejriwal had raised in the Delhi Assembly last November. While a CBI raid on Sisodia was expected on 19 January, nothing happened, enabling Kejriwal to taunt the CBI that it had chickened out.

Not just AAP, the filing of the PEs has attracted allegations of political conspiracy and vendetta from many observers as well.

Still, the BJP's attempts to trouble its opponents will continue, but it will serve the agency well if it conducts a quick and fair probe and settles the matter soon.

Also Read: #Modi-KejriWar: CBI's raid on Kejriwal was a bad idea

First published: 19 January 2017, 8:42 IST
Charu Kartikeya @CharuKeya

Assistant Editor at Catch, Charu enjoys covering politics and uncovering politicians. Of nine years in journalism, he spent six happily covering Parliament and parliamentarians at Lok Sabha TV and the other three as news anchor at Doordarshan News. A Royal Enfield enthusiast, he dreams of having enough time to roar away towards Ladakh, but for the moment the only miles he's covering are the 20-km stretch between home and work.