The entire credibility of the leaders of opposition parties is at stake due to corruption allegations.

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After winning the assembly elections held in November last year in three states, it became clear that the BJP government at the Center will not spare the leaders of opposition parties regarding corruption. This was proved by the arrest of Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren in the land scam. The surprising thing is that the opposition parties are accusing the BJP of acting out of political malice on Soren’s arrest but have not even once told what road map they have to eliminate corruption from the country. What concrete steps have been taken against corruption in the states ruled by opposition parties? On the contrary, the BJP government at the Center has understood that the voters of the country are in support of its campaign against corruption.

Other opposition parties including Congress tried hard to corner the BJP government at the Center on corruption charges, but could not succeed. The opposition made many allegations against the central government regarding Rafale, Adani and Ambani war planes purchased from France. Opposition parties even filed a petition in the Supreme Court regarding these allegations. The Supreme Court rejected them as immaterial. This increased the moral strength of BJP. Along with intensifying the campaign against corruption, BJP also took arrest action against leaders like Soren. The opposition is alleging vindictive intentions on corruption, but in most of the cases of arrest of leaders by the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation, they could not even get bail from the courts. This shows that ED and CBI have taken action on the basis of solid evidence. Leaders of many parties including Trinamool Congress and AAP have been in jail for months and years due to lack of bail.

The courts have accepted that sufficient evidence has been found against these leaders for their involvement in corruption. This is the reason why they could not get bail, so that the evidence and witnesses could not be influenced. It is noteworthy that 14 parties including Congress had filed a petition in the Supreme Court accusing ED and CBI of acting maliciously. In the petition, there was a demand to issue future guidelines regarding investigating agencies. Opposition parties argued that there has been a 600 percent increase in CBI and ED cases from 2013-14 to 2021-22. 121 political leaders have been investigated by the ED, out of which 95 percent are from opposition parties. Of the 124 investigations by the CBI, more than 95 percent are from opposition parties. CJI DY Chandrachud said it is not possible to lay down general guidelines without the facts of the particular case. The CJI said that when you have an individual criminal case, come back to us. It would be dangerous to give general guidelines without regard to the facts of the case. On this the opposition parties withdrew the petition.

BJP’s morale got boosted after the leaders of most of the opposition parties were not granted bail and the opposition parties were defeated by the Supreme Court. This is the reason why during the last assembly elections and thereafter, many senior BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra, Home Minister Amit Shah have been publicly shouting against corruption. After the arrest of former Chief Minister Soren, the sword of arrest is hanging on many big leaders of opposition parties. After the arrest of Hemant Soren, alarm bells are ringing the loudest around Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Aam Aadmi Party convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is facing the Delhi Liquor Policy scam case. In this case, ED has sent four summons to Kejriwal but he has not yet appeared before the Central Investigation Agency.

There are more than a dozen opposition leaders on the radar of central agencies. Sooner or later it will be difficult for them to survive. Telangana Chief Minister and Congress leader Revanth Reddy faces a money laundering case. It is alleged that when Revanth was in TDP, he had allegedly given Rs 50 lakh as bribe to an MLA to vote in his favor during the Legislative Council elections in 2015. The Enforcement Directorate is also keeping an eye on Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy. Many cases were registered against him during the UPA regime itself. ED had registered a new case of money laundering against Jagan Mohan in 2015. This case is related to the allegation of giving and taking of money from Bharti Cements owned by Jagan. At present, the Left government is left only in Kerala and there too the ED is investigating a money laundering case against the state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The matter pertains to Vijayan’s tenure as Electricity Minister. CBI had filed a charge sheet in the 1995 SNC Lavalin case. The case pertains to alleged corruption in the contract awarded to Canadian firm SNC Lavalin for modernization of hydroelectric projects in Idukki. Congress leader and Karnataka Deputy CM DK Shivakumar has been under the surveillance of CBI, ED and Income Tax Department for many years. CBI registered a case against the Congress leader in 2020 regarding income of Rs 74 crore between 2013 and 2018.

Lalu Yadav’s family has been on the radar of central investigating agencies for a long time. Former Bihar CM Lalu Yadav, former CM Rabri Devi, son Tejashwi Yadav, Misa Bharti are the main accused in the alleged land-for-job scam case. Apart from this, many alleged corruption cases are registered against Lalu Yadav. ED is also keeping an eye on Congress leader and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Hooda’s Manesar land deal case and Associated Journals Limited’s Panchkula land allotment case are under investigation. Similarly, the names of former Rajasthan CM and senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot, former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot and MP Karti Chidambaram are in the alleged “ambulance scam” case. A case was registered against the Congress leaders in 2015, which pertains to fraudulently awarding the contract to run “08 Ambulance Service” to Jikitsa Healthcare in 2010. Pilot and Chidambaram were reportedly directors in the company. The company is accused of submitting grossly inflated challans.

Former Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel is facing an ED probe in at least three cases of alleged money laundering related to irregularities in coal transportation, operation of liquor shops and Mahadev gaming app during his government. ED and CBI are also keeping an eye on former UP Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav. He is under the scanner of central investigating agencies for alleged irregularities in the Gomti Riverfront Project and mining concessions. Many projects during the tenure of former UP CM and BSP Chief Mayawati are under investigation. However, his name is not in any of the FIRs of the agencies. Apart from this, there are many names in the list of leaders of opposition parties against whom cases are registered in ED and CBI. The way the action is being taken against the opposition leaders regarding corruption, their image among the people of the country is continuously getting tarnished. Campaigns like Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Nyaya Yatra will not prove to be a lifeline for the Congress and the opposition parties unless the opposition party presents a transparent and uniform policy against corruption in front of the country.

– Yogendra Yogi

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