The Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday claimed that former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had cleared 13 mining projects on a single day in 2013, PTI reported. The agency had carried out searches in connection with an illegal sand mining case at 14 locations in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi on Saturday.

On Monday, the CBI claimed that Yadav, who also held the mining portfolio for some time while he was chief minister between 2012 and 2017, cleared 14 leases, out of which 13 were cleared on February 17, 2013, in violation of an e-tendering process the Chief Minister’s Office had formulated in 2012.

Yadav, who is the president of the Samajwadi Party, on Sunday said he was ready to face a CBI investigation in connection with the case. Yadav claimed that parties wanting to thwart the Samajwadi Party in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections were using the CBI. “Those who want to stop us have the CBI with them,” he said.

On Monday, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, whose party finalised an alliance with the Samajwadi Party earlier this month, claimed Yadav was being targeted to “defame and oppress” their tie-up, The Hindu reported. Mayawati claimed that the CBI’s threats that it would interrogate Yadav “under the guise of a probe” was an act of “election greed” issued with feelings of political malice.

Mayawati said she spoke to Yadav on Sunday and reminded him of her alleged persecution in the Taj Corridor case. The case concerns the alleged embezzlement of money that was to be used in a project intended to upgrade tourist facilities near the Taj Mahal. The CBI had done an extensive investigation in the case, which was filed in 2002, when Mayawati was the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The project is now defunct.

The Bahujan Samaj Party chief claimed she was targeted in the case because she refused to give the Bharatiya Janata Party 60 out of 80 seats to contest in an alliance in Uttar Pradesh.

Mayawati claimed there was “nothing new” about the BJP’s “disgusting politics and election conspiracy”, and asserted that the party will pay the price at the polls. She claimed that the BJP was rattled when news reports said she had met Yadav along with the leadership of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, and hence resorted to using the CBI.

‘Why are Opposition leaders panicking?’

Uttar Pradesh MLA Siddharth Nath Singh wondered why opposition leaders was panicking over the CBI inquiry if they are not guilty, PTI reported. “Why are they afraid?” he asked. “The CBI has not yet taken the name of Akhilesh Yadav. If there was no illegal mining during the Samajwadi Party government, there is no need for them to be afraid of the CBI probe. It looks like ‘chor ki daadi mein tinka’ [a guilty conscience pricks the mind].”

Singh, commenting on Mayawati’s call to Akhilesh, said: “It seems their alliance principle is – you save me and I save you.”