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Is the Congress using the CBI to bully Mayawati into submission?

Illustration: Samia Singh
NK Singh
NK Singh

THE LAW in its majestic equality forbids all men to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread — the rich as well as the poor,” French writer Anatole France had said. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) follows this line in letter and spirit. It spares neither backward leaders Mulayam Singh and Lalu Yadav nor Dalit leader Mayawati — albeit for a specific purpose.

The recent assertion by the CBI that it has substantial proof against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is a classic case of how institutions are used for political manipulation.

The assertion per se is unwarranted as the matter is in the Supreme Court and is listed for hearing. There was no apparent reason for the CBI to make such an assertion in the public through the media. If there is a cast-iron case, the agency can easily present the same before the Supreme Court.

Recall the then Governor T Rajeshwar’s decision in June 2007 not to accord permission to proceed against Mayawati even though a prima facie case was made out against her. The Governor’s decision was based on the “opinion” of none other than the Attorney General. The Attorney General had opined that there was no need for the Governor to give permission, in view of the material made available to him.

Today, when the UPA Government is facing a hostile opposition during the ongoing budget session and needs support to see the budget through, a message is sought to be sent to Mayawati so as to shackle her into submission.

The Government is worried that the ongoing anti-government pitch by the united opposition which is baying for the government’s blood, might upset its applecart. Those leaders who are vulnerable may come to its rescue once the whip is cracked by the agency brass.

Fragile coalition governments have made use of this “bullying through CBI” tactic earlier. The same CBI had earlier filed two intervention applications (IAS) in quick succession in the disproportionate assets case against Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2007. Next July, Mulayam supported the government. The same agency in November sought to withdraw the intervention applications. Even the Supreme Court wondered why the CBI was withdrawing the applications when it had a cast-iron case against the defendants.

Given the level of corruption by the powers that be, the dimension has assumed alarming proportions. Allowing legal immunity (after an initial bullying) to corrupt leaders and seeking their support to run minority governments — this is the best example of a pay-off system of corruption that has dogged democracies in semi-literate societies across the world. Institutions, the legal framework and the apex democratic edifice are used to perpetrate corruption. An unobtrusive, though very effective, protection is given to the corrupt so as to further the cause. The pay-off system has a tendency to breed more corruption unless the entire body politic gets involved.

Fragile coalition governments have time and again used this‘bullying through CBI’ tactic

It is the same CBI that had told the Allahabad High Court in the multi-crore foodgrain scam that it had no wherewithal to carry out the investigation. But when the chips are down and when the Congress bosses find the going tough on the floor of the lower house during the budget session, the CBI gets its act together and announces its commitment to book the guilty “however high or mighty he or she may be”.

“Corruption is the most infallible symptom of constitutional liberty,” Edward Gibbon wrote in his scholarly book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. If he were to write the book again he would have said: “The CBI is the most infallible manifestation of political exigency that makes the corrupt cajole [others], and allows political stability”.

Writer’s Email: [email protected]

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