CBI ED being unleashed on political rivals is not new in politics. Every political opponent has faced the heat of CBI some of them have even been arrested and put behind the bars. Jayalalitha , Mayawati ,Jagan Mohan Reddy, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal ,and Narendra Modi in recent times have faced grilling by this institution . But why is it that today when Mamta Banerjee , Akhilesh Yadav ,Robert Vadra are being investigated is there a hue and cry in the matter ? Firstly, the CBI itself stands exposed for the deep rot that it has inside with its own men facing corruption charges. Just before the end of UPA 2 the CBI Director Ranjit Sinha was called a Caged Parrot by the Supreme Court for the political control that prevented proper investigation by the institution. But what happened in CBI during Modi govt has showed to the world how deep and worse the rot is. This is for the first time that a conflict is within the institution when the senior vs junior spat on who should be framing charges on whom and whether these charges should be buried. Now an institution which has officers being framed with corruption charges is going to be investigating for corruption those leaders who are mandated by the people of the country to govern them. When it comes to a scenario in which those representing the people of this country are going to be investigated by those who have no credibility that too when elections are about to take place does it need to be said which was the die is cast in voters mind ? These netas need not even cry victimhood the voter will perceive that Modi is trying to finish off our leader for his own political gains . Imagine the common man in Bengal, Bihar, UP they are bound to think that my leader is being finished off by Modi to rule me. Let us not forget such was also the thinking of Gujratis when Supreme Court asked a CBI monitored probe of CM Narendra Modi for his role in Godhra riots. The leaders against whom Modi has unleashed CBI for probe represent a mass base of their caste and community Bengalis , Yadavs, Dalits, OBCs , Muslims to name a few. These voters back these leader because their cause and their sufferings are represented to get them a better life which otherwise was neglected. The rise of regional leaders like Mamta, Mayawati, Lalu, Akhilesh ( Mulayam) is because their voters felt the neglect of the centrally administered party like the Congress or the BJP (Janata Party). Regional press, Television news channel owned by these netas repeatedly send a message to the masses of what their leaders are doing for them and whether the bosses in Delhi are listening to their voice. Isnt it that with such a strong caste and community feeling casting aspersions on their own leader is akin to casting aspersions on that very community /caste ? Whether there is merit or not but when a regional leader is put behind bars the insecurity is felt by his community – Who will represent me ? Who will take care of my aspirations ? Narendra Modi cannot become a Bengali or a Yadav or a Dalit no matter how hard he tries to convince these regional masses. He will remain a Gujrati, an outsider always.
A lesson in history is worth revisiting at this stage. In October 1977 the home minister Charan Singh in Janta Party govt decided he must arrest former PM Indira Gandhi on charges of corruption. The CBI prepared a chargesheet and arrested Gandhi. When she was produced before the magistrate he threw out the chargesheet as flimsy and insubstantial. This bungled arrest to teach political opponent a lesson helped redeem the reputation of their hated opponent. The result was that Indira Gandhi came with a massive victory partly on sympathy wave and partly on poor performance of Janata Party. History of Jayalalitha , Mayawati etc too has similar instances when their electoral performances have shot up significantly in assembly and general elections. Today, Priyanka Gandhi may not be Indira Gandhi but what is happening to Robert Vadra will launch her career firmly and could revive Congress Party fortunes. She was seen dropping off Vadra at the ED office giving a signal that an Indian woman who stands by her husband when in trouble .Whatever be the merit of the case she and her two teenage children being harassed by Modi will certainly not work in BJPs favour that too when elections are just a month away. Besides what will PM Modi explain to the masses that their own leaders are corrupt and that he is the slayer of all evils ? Given the background of Godhra he has it will only confirm worst fears and doubts of the people. Modi would still have a chance if the economy was doing too well with joblessness and farmer distress hitting the cities even urban masses are feeling sympathetic towards the country folks for being given a raw deal. For the voter always sides with the one who is vulnerable, Modi should know that and be careful what advantage he is giving to his political rivals in election season.
*Bhagyashree Pande is Sr Journalist & political commentator lives in Mumbai