Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, once again, tried to corner the Modi government over the ongoing CBI feud at the launch of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor’s book “The Paradoxical Prime Minister” in New Delhi. Manmohan Singh was referring to the current crisis in the investigative agency in which the director and the special director of the institution have been sent on leave for now. Singh claimed, “The environment in our universities and national institutions like the CBI is being vitiated.”
It is both strange and surprising that this statement comes from the previous prime minister. It seems as if the accidental prime minister has forgotten what had been done to the CBI during his days of the Congress-led UPA government. It is also possible that he was not privy to the manipulation of the agency by certain vested interests, given that only those with greater importance within the party and the government, i.e. the family ruling over the Congress and its coterie were involved in decision making. However, the misuse and abuse of the top investigation agency during the UPA rule is no secret. Misuse of the CBI during the tenure of the Congress-led UPA government was apparent on the face of it.
In 2014, the then CBI director Ranjit Sinha had disclosed that there were certain ‘expectations’ from the organisation to charge Amit Shah in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. He had also said that the UPA government would “have been very happy”, had Amit Shah been charged in the case. He clearly stated, “There were political expectations…the UPA government would have been very happy if we had charged Amit Shah…but we went strictly by evidence and found there was no prosecutable evidence against Shah.” This goes on to show how the UPA had attempted to use the CBI as a political instrument in order to implicate Amit Shah and settle political scores. Sinha also clarified that there was no occasion to charge Amit Shah for politically sanctioning the fake encounter as alleged by certain witnesses. He said, “There were some doubts, but that was not enough to amount to evidence. Clearing Shah is a testimony to the fact that it is a fair and thorough investigation.”
This is just the one case where the previous UPA government tried to use the CBI as a political tool in order to witch-hunt its political opponents and settle scores. It is flummoxing how an institution vested with such important powers was grossly misused for totally political purposes. Another such instance of politicisation of the CBI was a raid that was carried out in the house of M.K. Stalin, son of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) patriarch M. Karunanidhi. What must be noted here is the fact that the raid took place after the DMK pulled out of the Congress-led UPA government. The raids were conducted at 17 places in Chennai. The raids took place in connection with the purchase of an illegally imported car by Stalin’s son, Udhayanidhi Stalin. Within hours, the then prime minister Manmohan Singh disavowed the action taken by the top agency. However, it is unfathomable that a premier agency like the CBI could have carried out such politically sensitive raids and that too without the knowledge of the government.
The way, the UPA government went after the Adani group at the end of its tenure, is yet another instance of using the CBI for political ends. It had been reported that the CBI was scrutinising the Adani group businesses. This was significant because there was a widely held perception about the CBI being controlled by the government and the alleged proximity between Gautam Adani and the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. This seemed to be a clear example of the government openly using a central agency in order to target an entrepreneur.
It is indeed unbecoming of the former prime minister, Manmohan Singh to make any remark about the condition of CBI when his own government has been involved in grossly misusing and abusing it. If he could not control the blatant misuse of the agency under his own government, there is no point in criticising the incumbent government on this issue.
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