These days, two Chief Ministers of the country are teasing the law and investigating agencies. The first Chief Minister is Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi and the second is Hemant Soren of Jharkhand. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has sent notices to both the Chief Ministers several times and called them for questioning in different cases related to corruption. But both are making excuses for not appearing before the ED. ED has sent summons to Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant seven times and to Kejriwal three times. But both are brazenly and shamelessly using the political victim card in this matter. Both call ED’s action politically motivated. And accuses the Modi government at the Center of misusing investigative agencies to suppress its opponents. In fact, under the guise of political allegations, both of them are openly making fun of the law and investigating agencies.
On January 3, ED had summoned Arvind Kejriwal with a third notice in the alleged scam case in Delhi Liquor Policy. But Kejriwal refused to appear before the ED. He sent a reply to ED declaring the summons illegal. In the liquor scam in which Kejriwal is to be interrogated, his two big leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh have been lodged in Tihar for months. The matter is serious. Since Kejriwal’s name has cropped up in the investigation, it is clear that the agency will have solid evidence against him. CBI has interrogated him in this case. Kejriwal often gives himself certificate of honesty by thumping his chest in the media and public forums. About 20 leaders of the ten-year-old Aam Aadmi Party from Delhi and Punjab have been to jail in various cases. AAP is in government in both these states.
ED has to interrogate Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren in the land scam and illegal mining case. ED has sent him seven summons. But Hemant is continuously running away from interrogation. In its seventh summons, the ED had asked the Chief Minister to inform the place, date and time for the questioning, so that the questioning could be done. But the reply sent by the Chief Minister does not mention the place, date and time.
Not only Kejriwal and Soren, the opposition leader to whom the investigating agencies reach, starts creating political drama by calling it politically motivated. Recently, during the income tax raids at the residences of Congress Rajya Sabha MP from Jharkhand, Dheeraj Sahu, cash worth more than Rs 353 crore was recovered. There was a lot of politics on this matter also. In West Bengal last July, TMC leader and former state minister Partha Chatterjee was arrested by the ED in a case related to the school job scam. Earlier this year, TMC MP and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee was questioned in connection with the West Bengal School Service Commission recruitment and coal smuggling cases. Malik, Minister of State of Mamata government, was arrested by ED in the ration distribution scam.
In February 2019, when a CBI team came to interrogate Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha chit fund scam, CM Mamata Banerjee accused the Modi government at the Center of misusing the CBI and sat on a strike. Saradha Group allegedly defrauded lakhs of people through several Ponzi schemes in West Bengal. In this, names of Trinamool Congress leaders were revealed. While CBI is investigating him, the state government worked to stop him due to political reasons.
Lalu Yadav and his family members are facing investigation in a corruption case in Bihar. All the leaders of the party and opposition involved in corruption and crime are on the radar of the investigating agencies. Many leaders are also serving jail sentences. It is a simple matter, if someone’s background is clean then why would the investigating agency call him for questioning? If someone is innocent then why will the court punish him? The court or the judge are not workers or leaders of any party.
Court is not granting bail to Sisodia and Sanjay Singh in Delhi liquor scam. Meaning the court understands that there is enough evidence against these two, if they are granted bail then these people can influence the investigation. Former Samajwadi Party minister in UP Azam Khan, his wife and son are in jail. Lalu Prasad Yadav is convicted in the fodder scam. Has the court sentenced him without any fault?
On December 22, Rakesh Dhar Tripathi, who was the Education Minister in the BSP government in UP, was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment in a corruption case. On December 21, the Madras High Court convicted DMK leader and Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister K Ponmudi in corruption and disproportionate assets cases and sentenced him to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50 lakh. Ponmudi’s wife Vishalakshi has also been convicted.
The question is, is the punishment given to these leaders by the court politically motivated? In fact, there has been a history of tremendous coordination and agreement among political parties on political corruption. No matter how much mud was thrown against each other in public forums, there was no talk of corruption after the elections. But after the Modi government came to power at the Center in 2014, the consensus and coordination against corruption, especially political corruption, was strongly attacked. As a result, today many corrupt leaders and influential people are facing jail.
When the hands of the law start reaching the neck of so-called influential people and leaders, they start playing the trumpet of misuse of investigating agencies and political vendetta. When people holding responsible positions adopt various tactics to escape from the law and investigating agencies, it sends a wrong message to the society. This creates a feeling of disrespect towards the law and investigating agencies in the minds of the common man and creates difficulties in establishing the rule of law.
Instead of looking into their own pockets, political parties and leaders accuse the ruling party of misuse of investigative agencies. Governments of every party misuse agencies, this is the bitter reality. Last year, the entire country saw how the governments of Bihar and Tamil Nadu misused the investigating agencies and police by jailing YouTuber Manish Kashyap on sedition and other serious cases for making a video. In 2012, the Maharashtra Congress government was angered by a cartoon by cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and sent him to jail on charges of sedition. There are many examples of misuse of investigating agencies and police.
Kejriwal and Soren’s non-appearance before the ED puts them under suspicion. If he is clean then he should present his side before the ED. Instead of appearing before the agency, both of them are preparing how they can appoint a member of their family to the post of CM after their arrest. At present, the politics and rhetoric of Kejriwal and Soren indicate that they are aware of their future. ED should set an example by taking appropriate action in this case. This is also necessary for establishing the rule of law.
(The author is an independent journalist)