About six months ahead of the general elections, the internal feud in CBI is of great significance given the number of high-profile alleged corruption cases under its remit. The changing power equations within the agency is of political significance given how opposition has been crying foul over alleged misuse of central agencies by the BJP-led government to tame its opponents.
Apart from some of high-profile cases involving economic offenders like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi that are at a critical stage of investigation, the CBI is probing over two dozen cases involving politicians from opposition parties. Among the cases under probe are corruption case against former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in National Herald case where Hooda is alleged to have ordered restoration of an institutional plot at Panchkula to Associated Journals Ltd at old rates.
Former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat is facing probe in connection with the alleged sting operation purportedly showing him offering bribes to rebel Congress lawmakers to support him during a floor test. RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and his son Tejaswi are under investigation for IRCTC scam while Delhi health minister Satyender Kumar Jain is being probed for alleged corruption in hiring a creative team for PWD. In the past four years, CBI has raided their properties, questioned them and registered criminal cases. These cases are under the supervision of IPS officers who are from Gujarat cadre and came on deputation to CBI between 2014-17.
A number of top TMC leaders, including Sudip Bandopadhyay, are under scrutiny in cases of Saradha scam, Rose Valley chit fund scam and Narada sting operation case. Karti Chidambaram and former Union Minister P Chidambaram are being probed for corruption in the INX Media case and foreign exchange violation cases. Several AAP ministers have also being questioned by the CBI.
It may be recalled that ahead of Alok Verma taking over as CBI director, an SIT was set up in June 2016 to probe key corruption cases involving politicians. The SIT was headed by then additional director Rakesh Asthana. The six cases first assigned to the SIT included the Agusta Westland scam allegedly involving top Congress leaders, Mallya’s loan default case, the ambulance scam in Rajasthan allegedly involving former chief minister Ashok Gehlot, former Union minister Sachin Pilot and Karti.
The CBI is probing Uttar Pradesh’s National Rural Health Mission scam allegedly involving top BSP leaders and has also questioned its supremo Mayawati.
In 2015, the agency raided the office of Rajendra Kumar, Private Secretary to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. CBI is also investigating alleged links of suspended UP engineer Yadav Singh to SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav’s family. CBI has filed 11 chargesheets against YSR chief Jagan Reddy and others accusing them of amassing disproportionate wealth.
The agency recently revived conspiracy charges in Babri Masjid demolition case, a move that was seen as the government’s attempt to keep the Ayodhya issue burning.