Leaders of nine opposition parties, including Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, have written a joint letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging ”blatant misuse” of central agencies against the members of the opposition.
The signatories of the letter are Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Bannerjee, Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann, Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Farooq Abdullah (Jammu & Kashmir National Conference), Uddhav Thackeray (Shiv Sena, UBT) and Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party.
“The blatant misuse of central agencies against the members of the opposition appears to suggest that we have transitioned from being a democracy to an autocracy… the misuse of central agencies and constitutional offices like that of the Governor – to settle scores outside of the electoral battlefield is strongly condemnable as it does not bode well for our democracy,” the letter said.
Highlighting Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s arrest by the CBI in connection with the irregularities in Delhi Liquor Policy, the leaders said the charges against the AAP leader were “outrightly baseless and smack of a political conspiracy”.
His arrest has enraged people across the country. Sisodia is recognised globally for transforming Delhi’s school education. His arrest will be cited worldwide as an example of a political witch-hunt and further confirm what the world was only suspecting – that India’s democratic values stand threatened under an authoritarian BJP regime, they alleged.
Citing Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and former TMC leaders Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy as examples, the leaders claimed that the investigation agencies go slow on cases against opposition politicians, who join the BJP.
“Since 2014, there has been a marked rise in the number of raids conducted, cases lodged against and arrest of the opposition leaders. Be it Lalu Prasad Yadav (Rashtriya Janata Dal), Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena), Azam Khan (Samajwadi Party), Nawab Malik, Anil Deshmukh (NCP), Abhishek Banerjee (TMC), central agencies have often sparked suspicion that they were working as extended wings of the Centre,” they said.
It is clear that the agencies have their priorities misplaced. Following the publication of an international forensic financial research report, SBI and LIC have reportedly lost over Rs 78,000 crore in market capitalisation of their shares due to exposure to a certain firm, they alleged.
Pointing to Governors of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Telangana and the Lt Governor of Delhi, the leaders charged the offices of these Governors with acting in violation of the constitutional provisions and frequently hindering the governance of the state.