Manner and timing of the CBI action in
West Bengal reeks of political vendetta. The graceless spectacle in Kolkata
captures a drama that officers, landing up allegedly unannounced and
warrantless, at the residence of the state police chief. Leave the common man;
if a top police officer has to be interrogated, the minimum requirement is
prior information and a warrant. Also rules provide that the state government
has to be informed the purpose of the CBI visit.
face-off between the state police and CBI was inevitable. Arrest and roughing
of the CBI officers by the state police when they attempted to force in police
chief’s residence looks a little awkward but state police has no other option.
The CBI officers were later let off.
one side, the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sitting on a dharnaagainst
Centre’s “coup” attempt, daring it to impose President’s Rule, her top cop by
her side, and on the other side, the state projecting West Bengal as a “state
of anarchy” looks strange. The war of images and words has almost completely
overtaken the issue ostensibly at the heart of all—the investigation into
Saradha and other chit fund issues in which thousands of small investors were
cheated, and which allegedly involved politicians in the ruling TMC even as
some prominent accused have since crossed over to BJP.
then, the Saradha probe may not be at the heart of the showdown politics in
West Bengal at all. Behind the loud invocation of Corruption, Constitution,
Democracy and Federalism by both sides, may lie no higher scruple or
principle—only narrow, short-term electoral calculus. With general elections
due in a couple of months, it may be that images from last Sunday are related
to earlier photo-op from West Bengal—the show of strength from a Kolkata stage
of 23 Opposition parties under the aegis of TMC in January. If that be the
case, both the ruling parties at the Centre and West Bengal, have much to
answer for. And, in this bid to misuse state resources to launch their
respective electoral campaign in a state where TMC is dominant and the BJP is
on the rise, the BJP-led-centre seems more to blame.
BJP government at the Centre must know that both the manner and timing of the
CBI action in West Bengal reek of a politics of vendetta against a political
opponent. In the short-term, the party may even make electoral gains from the
riveting show down in Kolkota—as may Mamata Banerjee, who is clearly reveling
in her return to the street politics and waiting this moment to rally behind
her potential allies in the opposition. But in long-term, the Kolkata event
carries troubling consequences in a constitutional democracy. In its visible
undermining of due process, it threats to deepen distrust and strengthen
cynicism. It is now up to the judiciary — the CBI has gone to court.
an end to West Bengal Government’s aggressiveness resistance to CBI’s efforts
to interrogate Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar in connection with the chit
fund scam, the Supreme Court asked the IPS officer to appear before the agency
for questioning in Shillong and “faithfully cooperate with the agency all the
time” but restrain CBI from arresting him or taking any coercive action against
him. The order was welcomed both by Mamata Banerjee and the BJP who claimed
also point to CBI’s abated Saradha probe against two top leaders in Bengal and
Assam after they joined the BJP. In short, CBI’s poor record in investigation
and its reputation as a caged parrot is hurting. In similar circumstances,
Arvind Kejriwal had alleged that CM office was raided and sealed when CBI was
gunning for his principal secretary Rajender Kumar. Recently, Andhra Pradesh
and Bengal had revoked the general consensus to CBI to undertake probes
claiming loss of faith. AP and Bengal’s moves offer impunity to corrupt. But
CBI also has itself to blame.
close association that many IPS (there are honourable exceptions) have with
their political officers is well-known and this unveils the depth of the crisis
facing the force. The police functions as the police of the ruling party and
not the people’s police. Upright officers, with spine, are asked to cool their
heels in inconsequential postings — politician has snapped the chain of
command, corroded discipline, and made the police leaders beholden to
politician of the ruling party. Given the state of officers, it’s hardly a
surprise that many officers are also in the dock on corruption charges. (IPA Service)
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