Former CBI Director US Mishra (2003-2005) mentioned to Times Now that he faced political pressure from a UPA-1 minister (who he hasn’t named) on Mayawati’s Disproportionate Assets (DA) case back then. The timing of his chat is what makes Mishra’s accusation amazing. Coming just a few days after the most recently retired CBI Director AP Singh said that he never faced any political pressure over Mayawati from the UPA government, Mishra’s statement appears timed to almost look like a political repartee of sorts. More than proving that the CBI was indeed abused by the Congress, it only shows how politicized the CBI has become. How, whoever is in power – not just the Congress – abuses it.
A few paragraphs from the Business Standard dated Dec 2, 2003 (readily available when you search for US Mishra) will prove this. It will also prove how wrong Ravi Shankar Prasad was yesterday when he claimed that the BJP did not use CBI to scuttle the Babri Masjid case.
“That the ACC (Appointments Committee of the Cabinet) chaired by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee chose Mishra as the next CBI chief assumes significance in view of the fact that the premier investigative agency has been handling many politically sensitive cases.” What politically sensitive cases are we talking about here? “The most significant case being handled by the CBI is related to the demolition of the Babri mosque in which the CBI dropped the charges of conspiracy against all senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders including Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, Human Resources Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti.” So there goes Ravi Shankar Prasad’s claim that he made yesterday: “Let me clarify one thing. The integrity of BJP cannot be questioned because if we were controlling the CBI, we would have settled the Ayodhya's Ram temple dispute among ourselves". Well, you did try your best Mr Prasad!
What other cases was the BJP using the CBI to scuttle? “Similarly, the CBI is also assigned the job of conducting probe into the bribery case involving Dilip Singh Judeo and the Rs 30,000 crore stamp paper scam.” Just as a reminder, Dilip Singh Judeo was a minister in the Vajpayee government who was caught “on tape” accepting bribes from an Australian company in exchange for mining rights in Chhatisgarh (source: Wiki). The article gives specifics of the charge against the NDA government “More recently, a CBI official handling the Judeo case was transferred at a time when there was a pressure on the agency to summon Judeo and record his statement.” And of course everyone knows the infamous Telgi case.
Now here’s where the rub is. US Mishra was appointed CBI Director by his predecessor PC Sharma who retired on Dec 6, 2003. “His name was believed to be recommended by the outgoing CBI chief who has been accused of using the investigative agency for the benefit of the ruling party by the Opposition leaders.” Yes, appointed by the same PC Sharma who kowtowed to the BJP. Now is there any doubt in anyone’s minds why US Mishra was appointed the CBI Director back then in 2003? Clearly he was the BJP’s hand maiden. His outburst now is nothing but a way of paying back for the gratitudes extended to him then.
Incidentally, for all the furious complaints the BJP made recently when the Congress’s “hurriedly” appointed Ranjit Sinha as the new CBI Director, here’s what the Business Standard article said: “Just before the Assembly elections, the Congress had accused the government of using the CBI to bro-beat the Opposition particularly in connection with the Judeo case. In this backdrop where the agency’s role in investigating the high-profile cases has come under cloud, the government appears to have gone ahead with the process of appointment in a hurried manner.” The glorious smell of déjà vu which the BJP would love to forget!
For all the preaching that the NDA does nowadays calling the CBI the Congress Bureau of Investigations, it would help it if it just read some of the accusations made against itself when it was ruling!
To end this piece, three small points. One is that the CBI is a government department and is surely under its political influence, whether it is a BJP government or Congress. Hence the BJP cannot claim any high ground on this subject. Second, all CBI Directors are political appointees. The statement of US Mishra is thus unreliable. Third, all political parties count on the public’s (and media’s) short memory. Poor Sushil Kumar Shinde got into trouble for bringing this up recently in the context of the alleged coal scam, but the extracts from the Dec 2003 Business Standard article clearly show how everyone – most of all the BJP – has forgotten what happened when the BJP was ruling!
The real truth is that every government institution in the country has become politicized. If the Congress is guilty of it, so is the BJP. In that respect, the CBI is best described as Corrupt Bureau of Investigation….rather than the Congress Bureau. The solution however is not in making the CBI independent as demanded by Anna and others – at this rate, all government departments will become independent and the government itself will become a mere “paper government”. The solution is to remove corruption and bring accountability within the CBI – the same way that we must in all government institutions. Not via the Lokpal which is a flawed concept. But by addressing the real issues that cause corruption. More on that in some other piece!