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BRP Bhaskar: Change of master, not of system
December 22, 2015
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The Congress which headed the government at the Centre longer than any other party had come under attack frequently on two grounds: misuse of the institution of Governors and misuse of the Central Bureau of Investigation. One and a half years after Narendra Modi led the Bharatiya Janata Party to power there is no sign of change in the situation. If anything, it is getting worse.

Arunachal Pradesh is facing an unprecedented situation with Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa colluding with a group of Congress rebels and the opposition BJP to oust Congress Chief Minister Nabam Tuki.

The bizarre development began with Rajkhowa, a retired bureaucrat, advancing the date of the State Assembly session on his own. Speaker Nabam Rebia suspended 14 rebel Congress members and locked the Assembly premises to prevent the session called by the Governor without the Cabinet’s recommendation.

The Congress rebels and the BJP members met at a community hall, with Deputy Speaker T Norbum Thongdok, who is one of the rebels, in the chair. The Deputy Speaker rescinded the suspension orders issued by the Speaker. Thereafter the rebel assembly adopted a resolution removing the Speaker.

The rebel assembly later voted to remove Chief Minister Tuki and installed dissident Congressman Kalikho Pul as his successor.

On a petition filed by Speaker Rebia, the Gauhati High Court ordered that all decisions of the rebel assembly be held in abeyance. The court will take up the petition for hearing on February 1, 2016.

The Congress party alleged that Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, who belongs to Arunachal Pradesh, was behind the Governor’s unconstitutional acts. Denying the charge, Rijiju told a reporter that subversion of the Constitution was not in his blood.

Curiously, while admitting the Constitution was being subverted, Rijiju did not condemn it. He blamed the Congress for the situation.

The gubernatorial shenanigans did not attract much political and media attention as Arunachal Pradesh is a remote border state with a predominantly tribal population. A mischievous move by the CBI around the same time received more attention as the scene was Delhi.

While the UPA was in power, annoyed by the revelation that the CBI had made changes in an affidavit in a corruption case at the instance of a minister, a Supreme Court judge had dubbed the agency a caged parrot.

Responding to the criticism, CBI spokeswoman Dharini Mishra said, The CBI conducts all investigations in a free, fair and impartial manner as per the law. However, Vijay Shanker, who had headed the CBI from 2005 to 2008, admitted that the agency did come under political pressure.

The hollowness of the spokeswoman’s claim was exposed when the agency requested the Supreme Court to grant its Director the status of Government Secretary so as to free him from the government’s administrative and financial control.

The agency clarified that it was not seeking enhancement of its legal powers. Even if the Director was granted the powers of a Secretary, superintendence would vest in the Centre and the minister in charge would remain the final authority, it said.

The Supreme Court made a cursory attempt to secure a measure of professional autonomy for the agency. It sought the government’s views on a law to give the CBI functional autonomy and insulate its investigations against outside interference. The government rejected the idea of such a law.

Six months later, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance replaced the Congress-led UPA in office. The CBI now had a new master but the system remained unchanged.

Soon a change in the CBI’s tune was in evidence. In 2012, it had filed a charge-sheet implicating Amit Shah, who was Home Minister under Modi in Gujarat, along with some senior police officials in two cases of alleged fake encounters. On a petition by Shah, the trial court quashed the charge-sheet last year.

By then Shah had become the BJP’s president. The CBI, which had earlier claimed it had evidence against him, chose not to file an appeal.

Recently the CBI searched the office of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal ostensibly in connection with a corruption case against his Secretary, Rajinder Kumar, an IAS officer.

Kejriwal, whose Aam Admi Party had trounced the BJP in the Delhi Assembly elections, said the agency was looking for information on movement of files relating to alleged corruption in the Delhi and District Cricket Association when BJP leader and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was its president.

If Kejriwal’s allegation is correct, the caged parrot may be turning into a hunting falcon.

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 The author is a political analyst of reckoning
 

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