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BJP turns down PM's lunch invitation to protest CBI 'misuse'

By Sahim Salim
Last updated on: July 23, 2010 15:19 IST
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Dubbing the Central Bureau of Investigation the extended arm of the ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party went on the offensive on Friday and skipped a scheduled lunch with the prime minister. With the move, the party hopes to express its displeasure over the summoning of Gujarat Minister of State for Home Amit Shah for questioning in a fake encounter case.

Claiming that the ruling party is using the country's premier investigating agency to fulfill its "political agenda", senior BJP leaders LK Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley skipped a lunch hosted by the prime minister on Friday. The leaders, on July 19, had lunch with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, where they were invited to the PM's residence for a discussion during lunch on Friday.

"The ruling party keeps misusing the CBI to fulfill their political agenda, fresh example of which is the summoning of Amit Shah. We did not feel like going for the lunch after the Congress party's repeated condemnable acts," Swaraj said at a press conference on Friday. 

The BJP was in a combative mood, claiming the ruling party used the CBI to condemn and protect people as per its convenience. Giving examples, the BJP claimed that the Congress used the CBI to protect its friends like Jagdish Tytler and Satish Sharma, accused of involvement in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984, while it used the same agency to punish its foes like Advani, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

"That is just not how Indian politics work. It has been debated and discussed various times in Parliament how to curb the misuse of the CBI like this. There are various cases the CBI can investigate which can trap the United Progressive Alliance and its allies, but all of them are being neglected and false cases are being used to trap our ministers," Jaitley said at the press conference.

Referring to Amit Shah's summoning by the CBI, Jaitley claimed that the facts in the case are distorted and false.

"The Gujarat police and some officers appointed by the Supreme Court could not find anything to link Amit Shah to the case. How can evidence just find its way to the fore the moment the CBI investigates the case? Even the timing of summoning Amit Shah proves that the case is politically motivated," Jaitley said.

He was referring to the fact that Shah had been summoned is just before the beginning of the monsoon session of Parliament on Monday.

After top leaders of the BJP met at Advani's house on Friday morning to discuss the party's strategy against the backdrop of the huge embarrassment caused by the summoning of Amit Shah, they decided to boycott the PM's lunch. Advani called Mukherjee on Friday morning to inform him that the BJP would not be attending.

Gujarat minister Amit Shah, said to be the right hand man of the BJP's strong man Modi, was asked by the CBI to meet its officials in Ahmedabad by 1 pm on Friday. The CBI reportedly has phone records that show Shah was constantly on the phone with the cops who killed Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife in a fake encounter in 2005. These policemen, from Gujarat's Anti Terrorist Squad and the Rajasthan police, including IPS officers, have been arrested in the case. 

The cops had carried out the encounter claiming Sohrabuddin was a Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorist who planned to assassinate Modi.

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Sahim Salim in New Delhi
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