There has been a sharp rise in numbers as well as in percentage terms in Opposition leaders facing heat from the Central Bureau of Investigation under the Narendra Modi government since 2014, an analysis by The Indian Express based on data from court documents, agency statements and reports has revealed.
As per the report, of the 200-odd politicians booked, raided or questioned by the CBI since 2004, when the first government of the Congress-led United Progressive government assumed charge at the Centre, over 80 percent have been leaders of the Opposition.
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As per the IE analysis, of the 72 political leaders who fell under the CBI lens between 2004 and 2014, 43 or 60 percent of them were from the Opposition. On the contrary, 124 prominent leaders have come under the CBI scanner in the eight years of NDA rule since 2014. At least 118 of them are from the Opposition, constituting 95 percent of the tally.
The data further suggests that of the CBI’s action against 72 political leaders during the UPA rule, 29 were either Congress leaders or those belonging to alliance partners such as the DMK. The UPA government’s tenure was marred by several scams and allegations including the 2-G spectrum case, Commonwealth Games and coal block allotment cases.
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However, despite the Opposition’s shrinking footprint post-2014, the number of leaders from the camp facing CBI heat has risen to 124. Only six of them are leaders of note from the BJP, the IE report states.
Prominent leaders from the Opposition who are under the CBI’s radar under the NDA rule include 30 leaders from the TMC, 26 from Congress, 10 from RJD and BJD each, six from YSRCP, five each from BSP and TDP, four from AAP, AIADMK, SP and CPM, three from NCP, two each from NC and DMK and one each from PDP and TRS besides an Independent.
The CBI, under the NDA, has probed the CBI probed close relatives of key Congress politicians such as party president Sonia Gandhi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
As far as action against Opposition leaders under UPA’s rule is concerned, the BJP topped the list of parties with 12 cases being faced by its leaders. Prominent names on this list of NDA leaders included then Gujarat minister Amit Shah, former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa; Bellary mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy, former Defence Minister George Fernandes and former Information and Broadcasting minister Pramod Mahajan.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a CBI official denied that the agency is specifically targetting Opposition leaders and argued that many of these cases have been ordered by the courts.
“Be it the case against NCP’s Anil Deshmukh, the Saradha and Narada cases, or TMC leaders such as Partha Chatterjee or the West Bengal poll violence case, all have court orders behind them,” the official said, adding that a large number of cases have been recommended by state governments where politicians of the previous dispensation are under probe.
“As an agency, it is our duty to follow court orders and legitimate recommendations made by the state government or the Centre. The disproportionate share of Opposition leaders under any regime is merely a coincidence,” he added.