New Delhi: In February 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had warned the Congress in an election rally, saying, “I have your entire janampatri”. A janampatri refers to both a person’s horoscope and to his past.
On June 1, Wednesday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in a money laundering case related to the National Herald newspaper.
A day ago, ED officials arrested Delhi minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Satyendar Jain in a case connected to hawala transactions. Jain is the minister of health, power, home, PWD, industries, urban development, flood, irrigation and water, in the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government.
Responding to Jain’s arrest, AAP leader Sanjay Singh said that “the Delhi minister had appeared before the ED seven times. However, the action has now been taken to defame the AAP in the forthcoming Himachal Pradesh assembly elections.”
Raman, who covered politics for national dailies since 1978, wrote in The Wire, “Pre-election raids on political opponents and their donors have been the Modi-Shah regime’s signal contribution to electoral engineering. The process began with the 2016 assembly elections, originally intended to choke the flow of election funds for opposition campaigns. Since then, raids against political leaders became a regular election eve exercise.”
The article highlighted that allegations of disproportionate assets and PMLA [Prevention of Money Laundering Act] violations are among the most common charges slapped on opposition politicians. But those who defect to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) get to sleep soundly. However, convictions have been as low as nine out of 1,569 cases during the decade.
Here’s a list of opposition politicians who have been raided/summoned/arrested by the central enforcement agencies:
Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra minister, Anil Parab
The ED raided the premises of Shiv Sena’s Maharashtra minister Anil Parab in connection with a money laundering case.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi – the ruling coalition government in Maharashtra formed by Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress – had in 2020 outperformed the BJP by winning four of the six seats of the Maharashtra Legislative Council.
The party said that the ED arrest was a way to exact “political revenge” and that this will only make the Sena’s resolve stronger to fight the BJP.
The ED arrest comes against the backdrop of the impending civic body elections in the state.
NCP leader and cabinet minister of Maharashtra, Nawab Malik
The ED on February 23 arrested Maharashtra state minorities and skill development minister, Nawab Malik, in a money laundering case.
The NCP had said months ago that “Malik’s arrest is inevitable,” The Wire had reported. “This was not because the state cabinet minister was known to be involved in any criminal activities but because of his bold statements that central investigative agencies were allegedly “misusing power” in the state,” the report said.
Late last year, when Malik actively began criticising the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), and more specifically, one of the agency’s officers Samir Wankhede for allegedly planting evidence and targeting actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan, BJP leaders in the state had accused Malik of being involved in several crimes.
In a press conference addressed on November 10, 2021, BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis claimed that Malik and his family bought land parcels from people linked with the underworld.
Anil Deshmukh, former home minister of Maharashtra
In November 2021, Anil Deshmukh, former Maharashtra home minister from the NCP, was arrested by the ED after over 12 hours of questioning in a money-laundering case linked to an alleged extortion racket in the state police establishment.
However, the Justice K.U. Chandiwal Commission, set up to probe allegations of corruption levelled against Deshmukh, has given him a “clean chit”. The Commission had submitted its report to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and home minister Dilip Walse Patil on April 26.
Nearly six months after Deshmukh was arrested under the PMLA, he is still in jail.
Congress MP Karti Chidambaram
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) registered a first information report (FIR) on May 14 against Karti Chidambaram and others on allegations of a bribe of Rs 50 lakh paid to him and his close associate in 2011 by a top executive of Vedanta group company Talwandi Sabo Power Ltd (TSPL), which was setting a power plant in Punjab for the re-issuance of project visas for 263 Chinese workers employed there.
Trinamool Congress MP Abhishek Banerjee
The Supreme Court on May 12 told the ED that they can go to Kolkata and conduct the investigation in a money-laundering probe, linked to an alleged coal scam in West Bengal, in which the agency had issued summons to Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira Banerjee.
Earlier, the top court had rejected a petition filed by the TMC MP and his wife, seeking cancellation of summons issued against them in a money laundering probe.
Banerjee, a 34-year-old MP representing the Diamond Harbor assembly Lok Sabha, is Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and the national general secretary of the TMC.
Karnataka Congress president D.K. Shivkumar
A Delhi court on May 31 summoned Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar and others in a money laundering case lodged against him in 2018 after taking cognisance of the charge sheet.
The original complaint in the case had been lodged before a special court in Bengaluru by the Income Tax department in 2018, which had alleged that the Congress leader was involved in tax evasion and ‘hawala’ transactions worth crores of rupees.
The ED filed a charge sheet in the case last week through its special public prosecutor, on the basis of which the CBI court in Delhi issued summons to Shivakumar.
The court has ordered him to appear before it on July 1.
In September 2019, Shivakumar was arrested by the ED on charges of money laundering and tax evasion.
Two years before the arrest, Shivakumar’s residence and office in Bengaluru were raided by the income tax department. The raids took place after Shivakumar hosted Gujarat Congress MLAs in his resort in August 2017.
(Courtesy The Wire)