Two Opposition leaders – Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Lalu Prasad Yadav and Congress’s P Chidambaram – came under the scanner of the authorities on Tuesday. While the Central Bureau of Investigation carried out raids across 16 premises belonging to the former finance minister and his son Karti, the Income Tax department searched 22 premises known to be linked to Prasad.
CBI lens on Karti Chidambaram’s deal with INX
The CBI, which had earlier filed a First Information Report against Karti Chidambaram and INX Media for not having revealed the exact foreign investment they had received, conducted raids across Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Gurugram on Tuesday. The CBI officials said they were investigating the charge that Karti Chidambaram’s company received Rs 10 lakh from INX Media, which got a Foreign Exchange Promotion Board clearance for Rs 4 crore, but had actually received Rs 305 crores. INX Media was then owned by Peter Mukerjea and his wife Indrani.
Benami land deal shadow on Yadav
In Yadav’s case, the I-T officials searched for cash or evidence linking the politician to benami land deals allegedly amounting to Rs 1,000 crore. The raids were carried out in offices and houses of prominent businessmen and real estate agents across Delhi and its surrounding areas.
The raids involving Yadav came only days after the BJP had accused him and his children of being involved in corrupt land deals. On May 12, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had demanded an inquiry into land deals related to Yadav’s daughter Misa Bharti. A Rajya Sabha MP, Bharti had failed to disclose these assets in her election affidavit.
‘Witch hunt’, says Congress; ‘accountability’, retorts BJP
Both leaders cried foul and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party government of trying to settle scores by launching a political witch hunt. While Chidambaram said “the government wants to silence my voice”, Yadav dared the I-T department to disclose the specifics of the raid. The Congress, too, reacted sharply and said, “Registration of false cases against senior opposition leaders had become a part of the BJP’s DNA.”
Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan said, “The attempt is to grab headlines and create a perception. Why no action for three years?” Party leader KR Ramasamy dismissed reports that the former minister was guilty of any illegalities. “These raids are politically motivated,” Ramasamy said.
The BJP, meanwhile, dismissed Chidambaram’s charges of political vendetta and described Tuesday as a day that sought “accountability from the corrupt”, reported PTI. Even as the NDA government completed three years in power, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said Chidambaram “would be accountable for his son’s stroke”. He also dismissed the former minister’s charge that he was being punished for his columns criticising the BJP government, and said his writings “didn’t exactly set the Yamuna on fire”.
Goyal did not spare Yadav either, saying, “After all, it is not us who demanded reopening of fodder scam cases. The Supreme Court gave the verdict.”
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the “day of reckoning” had come for many, and insisted that the CBI did not take such action without “substantial basis and a reason to suspect”. “Now people in high positions acquiring assets through shell companies is not a small matter and I think the day of reckoning has come for many, they will all be held accountable.”