Who ordered the search against DMK leader M K Stalin or did the CBI really act of its own? Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt breaks down the events leading up to the raid and explains why claims by the government and the CBI are unconvincing.
When you sit in a sleazy beer bar not even a fool will believe that you are drinking badam-pista masala milk.
The Central Bureau of Investigation’s raid at the residence of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader M K Stalin in Chennai, just two days after his party withdrew crucial support to the central government, smacks of political vendetta.
All the claims and counter claims made by the government and the CBI over the searches are unconvincing.
Strong reactions to the raid from the DMK and opposition parties have put the Congress in a spot, even as the DMK earns sympathy.
The CBI in a statement said, “During the searches conducted at 18 locations today (Thursday), 17 imported cars have been located and seized under Section 102 (3) CrPC. Searches are continuing. The CBI wishes to clarify that the above operation was strictly in accordance with procedures and there was no intention whatsoever to target any particular individual.”
It is rather odd that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who otherwise rarely speaks, chose to talk about a search at a regional leader’s home. How many individuals in India can earn the honour of the prime minister rapping the so-called independent investigation authority for meddling in their affairs?
The prime minister has raised Stalin’s stature by leaps and bounds and has exposed how desperate the United Progressive Alliance is to cling to power.
"We are all upset at these events. The government had no role in this that I am sure of. We will find out the details. This should not have...(happened). The timing of the raid is most unfortunate," Dr Singh told the media.
He was joined by Congress leaders P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and Kamal Nath, who were seen struggling for words to express their strong protest against the CBI.
It was an absurd political moment because of the desperate attempt by the Congress to make people believe that the CBI acted independently. That’s a poor joke not worth trying even in India's dirty politics.
Sources say that Chidambaram requested Dr Singh to speak on the issue and quell the enormous instant reactions that poured in from all opposition parties. The finance minister is worried about the Budget and, back home, about his constituency.
Early Thursday morning, as soon as news of CBI’s “untimely” action arrived, Chidambaram called a news agency and said on camera, "Normally, I don't comment on the working of another department, but in this case, I have to say that I strongly disapprove of the CBI's action. It is bound to be misunderstood. I have conveyed my views to the minister in-charge."
So, who ordered the search against Stalin or did the CBI really act of its own?
The CBI says it has registered a case under section 120-B read with sections 420, 467, 468, 468 r/w 471 IPC and sec. 13 (2) r/w 13 (1) (d) of PC Act, 1988, in connection with a complaint that about 33 vehicles had been imported in Tamil Nadu, and of these, certain vehicles were believed to have been subsequently sold in violation of import provisions causing a loss of up to Rs 48 crore approximately to the exchequer.
Interestingly, the press statement doesn’t say when the case was registered. A CBI source says it was registered only a “few days back”.
So, when the DMK-Congress spat began over the US-sponsored resolution on Sri Lankan Tamils and the "number game" in Parliament began, a case was registered for the alleged violation of import rules. The source in the CBI said the case has been registered against an importer and a senior intelligence officer of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.
The allegation is that the officer was going soft on Stalin’s son, who is reportedly the owner of the imported car, and other political leaders involved in the import violations.
In fact, one resolution by America to “fix” Sri Lanka has created so much upheaval that Sri Lanka must be having the last laugh.
The US resolution at the UN has reduced the government’s votes substantially in the Lok Sabha. It has given a bad name to the major ruling party for treating its ally badly. The Congress has lost politically whatever was left in Tamil Nadu, as hundreds of students have shown solidarity with the Dravidian parties on the issue of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
The careful reading of India’s intervention before voting in Geneva is the text that would please Sri Lanka the most. So, diplomatically, too, the government has lost. Its proposal to move an amendment was not considered by America, the sponsor. It wasn't incorporated in the resolution.
No Asian country has supported the American move. Maldives, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Qatar, UAE have all sided with Sri Lanka, while Japan abstained.
The events of the last few days after the US-sponsored resolution came to centrestage of Indian politics are worth studying. The events took such wild turns that even Congress President Sonia Gandhi was forced to lend her voice in favour of the human rights issue of the people whose ideology and politics have been sympathetic to the killers of her husband.
But, nothing has helped the party or the government, which has lost an important ally after nine years of partnership, on the eve of the US-sponsored resolution at Geneva.
In an off the record conversation, some Congress leaders say that it could be a sabotage with the help of local CBI officers. Also, some Congressmen argued that why would the government ask the CBI to search a political adversary after crucial support was withdrawn?
A valid point.
But again, a more valid question would be, can the CBI act independently and hit the government hard by touching a powerful political leader at such a wrong time?
Everyone knows the answer.