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Mayawati under CBI scanner: is this part of BJP's Mission UP?

Atul Chaurasia | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 4:51 IST

The probe

  • CBI is likely to quiz Mayawati in connection with the NRHM scam
  • It also wants to inquire into Yadav Singh\'s connection with the scam
  • Mayawati accuses BJP of vendetta politics. She says she isn\'t afraid of any probe
  • NRHM scam supposedly led to losses of Rs 5,500-10,000 crore

The politics

  • It is believed Centre uses CBI to arm-twist politicians like Mayawati and Mulayam
  • Mayawati was earlier under the CBI scanner in the Taj Corridor case. She was acquitted
  • Mulayam\'s volte face in Bihar is also attributed to CBI pressure
  • With Mulayam and Mayawati embroiled with CBI, it\'s advantage BJP for the 2017 UP polls

When it comes to any Union government's relations with Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Central Bureau of Investigation is always seen as a critical element.

There is speculation that the CBI is going to quiz the BSP supremo in connection with National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam. Mayawati alleges that the BJP is misusing the agency to settle political scores.

What is the scam all about?

The scam is said to have claimed the lives of over a dozen high profile officials after it was unearthed in 2012. Many among the dead were Chief Medical Officers (CMOs), Deputy CMOs and other senior officers of the state health department

The NRHM was an ambitious scheme launched by the UPA government in 2005, aimed at improving health facilities in India's hinterland. However, given the scale of the scheme, it also gave rise to large-scale irregularities, particularly in Uttar Pradesh. Various estimates peg the loss to the exchequer to be anywhere between Rs 5,500 crore to Rs 10,000 crore.

Initial investigations indicted Babu Singh Kushwaha and Anant Kumar Mishra, both influential ministers in Mayawati's Cabinet. Both of them were stripped of their ministerial berths and are currently languishing in jail.

The finger of suspicion was always pointed towards Mayawati. But it is only after 4 years that the CBI has finally decided to grill the BSP supremo.

Mayawati's tryst with CBI

Predictably, Mayawati is crying foul. She has accused the Narendra Modi government of using the CBI to arm-twist its opponents.

This is Mayawati's second tryst with India's premier investigation agency. She had earlier faced the CBI's questions in 2003, for alleged her role in the Taj Corridor scam. CBI made her an accused in the disproportional assets case, only to be acquitted later by the Supreme Court.

However, the entire episode has an interesting background. The Taj Corridor case had been going on for some time. But, Mayawati was implicated only after she backtracked from a power sharing agreement with the BJP in 2003.

CBI had earlier gone after Mayawati in the Taj Corridor case in 2003. BJP was in power even then

According to the arrangement, Mayawati was to hand over the chief ministership to the BJP. Instead, she decided to pull out. The BJP was in power at the Centre back then. The CBI slapped charges of disproportionate income against her soon after. Many saw the move as being politically motivated.

However, a defiant Mayawati has challenged CBI as well as the BJP.

"I am ready to face the CBI inquiry. All decisions related to NRHM were taken by the Cabinet. I had no role in them," she retorts.

SP's CBI woes

Mayawati's bete noire Mulayam Singh Yadav also claims to have been targetted by the CBI at the Centre's behest.

As of now, the CBI sword hangs over Mulayam as well, given the CBI probe into the Yadav Singh case.

A newspaper investigation claims that SP leader Ramgopal Yadav's son Akshay Pratap Singh and daughter-in-law are shareholders in Yadav Singh's real estate company NM Buildwell. CBI is probing these links along with Yadav Singh's connection to the NRHM scam. It is alleged that a large sum of scam money was invested in Yadav Singh's enterprises. It is this angle that CBI wants Mayawati to shed light upon.

What happens next

No corruption case involving UP's bigwig politicians has reached its logical conclusion except the Taj Corridor case. Even the CBI has changed stands in such cases.

The embroilment of UP's two most prominent parties in CBI cases bodes well for the BJP, which is on the firm footing at the centre. This was recently demonstrated when Mulayam quit the grand alliance in Bihar.

The Modi government is in desperate need of support in the Rajya Sabha, if it is to implement its proposed reforms.

A senior BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh puts it aptly, "The government will now be at ease for the next five years. It will also make our 'Mission UP' easier."

This cat and mouse game may continue till the UP Assembly elections in 2017.

First published: 22 September 2015, 11:53 IST