Karti Chidambaram’s, son of former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, residences and offices were raided by the CBI. The pan-India raids were conducted in connection with money received from a media firm owned by Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, according to reports. CBI officials searched 14 locations including the Chidambarams’ properties in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and Gurgaon. On the same day, former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav felt the heat as the Income Tax department had conducted raids on at least 22 locations in Delhi and adjoining areas on charges of alleged benami deals worth Rs 1,000 crore linked to the RJD chief and others. Meanwhile, the raids have evoked sharp reactions from the Opposition parties with Congress terming the development as ‘political vendetta’.
CBI began the raids last morning and did not rule out investigating the alleged role of P Chidambaram. Earlier, the investigating agency had filed an FIR against Karti, Indrani and Peter Mukerjea on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, receiving illegal gratification, influencing public servants and criminal misconduct.
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P Chidambaram’s reaction
Reacting to the raids, Chidambaram accused the Narendra Modi government of ‘silencing’ his voice and claimed the Centre is using national agencies to target his son Karti. He said, there were no allegations against him in giving permissions during his tenure as the Union Finance Minister under the UPA government. “The government, using the CBI and other agencies, is targeting my son and his friends. The government’s aim is to silence my voice and stop me from writing, as it has tried to do in the cases of leaders of Opposition parties, journalists, columnists, NGOs and civil society organizations. All I will say is, I shall continue to speak and write,” the senior Congress leader added.
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Lalu Prasad’s reaction
Lalu Prasad had lashed out at the BJP, saying he would not be cowed down by the use of investigation agencies against him and continue to fight it.
Congress hits out at the central government
Congress had said that P Chidambaram has been targeted for his critical views about the central government. “The way these raids are being publicized it clearly shows that the Centre is trying to take political advantage out of it. It is a political vendetta. Chidambaram has been targeted for his critical views about the government. This is not right. He has been raising questions over government’s economic and political policies which made the latter to take this step,” Congress leader P.L. Punia told ANI.
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“Revenge and registration of false cases has become the DNA of the BJP government. Congress party will not be deterred. We will not bow down. We will continue to fight for the people of this country. Congress leaders will continue to raise their voices on issues and policies where the government has failed India,” Randeep Singh Surjewala told ANI.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also termed as ‘political vendetta’ the raids on P Chidambaram and RJD chief Lalu Prasad and said she had discussed the issue with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “If you do not like someone, then you send CBI, then put him in jail,” CM Banerjee said. She said even the media is under “tremendous pressure” from the government. “… some political vendetta is going on…. Whatever is happening today… sometimes with (Samajwadi Party leader) Akhilesh (Yadav), sometimes with (Odisha Chief Minister) Naveen Patnaik, sometimes with Laluji, Chidamabaram, (Delhi Chief Minister Arvind) Kejriwal,” Mamata told reporters.
On the other hand BJP has defended the raids. The ruling party at the Centre said this was the day of accountability for the corrupt. Union Minister Piyush Goyal rejected Chidambaram’s charge that he was being targeted for his columns critical of the government and claimed that the issue was why beneficiaries of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) gave “money to the firms owned by his son”. The former finance minister’s columns “did not exactly set the Yamuna on fire”, Goyal told reporters and took a dig at Chidambaram, saying, “He will be accountable for his son’s stroke,” according to PTI report.