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Purging the CBI

Purging the CBI
Highlights

Purging the CBI, The Saradha chit fund scandal is getting murkier by the day, taking in its evil grasp more and more people in high places.

The Saradha chit fund scandal is getting murkier by the day, taking in its evil grasp more and more people in high places. Powerful ministers and legislators from two states, West Bengal and Odisha, their governments run by ambitious regional parties, are under investigation. While Odisha’s Navin Patnaik has extended full cooperation to the probe, West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee is fighting back, alleging conspiracy by the Centre.

As things develop, she is fighting with her back to the wall after some of her closest associates are in serious trouble.

The Supreme Court has rejected her government’s plea to monitor on a day-to-day basis the ongoing probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The apex court has said that it is not concerned with the likely political fallout (that has already begun) and would like to see the probe reach its logical end. This should be a booster for the CBI, under pressure from various quarters.

Touted as an autonomous body, but misused by successive governments, the CBI appears to have blown the whistle on the Union government with telling effect. Anil Goswami has been sacked as Home Secretary for what seems a clear case of misdemeanor. He telephoned CBI officials questioning former Union Minister Matang Sinh who is being probed for his Saradha ties. Goswami accepted that he had indeed telephoned the CBI officers concerned.

Sinh, said to be unwell, appears to have sought the help of many more persons in high places, to avoid being detained.

What he told the CBI investigators is not yet clear. Was Goswami’s a surreptitious, at his own behest or of someone more powerful, we do not know. Apparently, CBI cried foul and leaked out the story, without naming Goswami.

On the flip side, CBI’s own record in many cases has been dubious, more recently under Ranjit Sinha that his successor Anil Sinha is apparently trying to undo. In a sense, the country’s premier investigation agency is itself under constant watch.

Now, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who ordered Goswami’s sack after consulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has reshuffled the CBI. It is not known if these were talked to by Goswami. Indeed, the list of those who sought to intervene on Matang Sinh’s behalf seems to be growing, indicating the way a probe is scuttled. Goswami’s sacking may not end the story. For, Saradha is a political issue. On the other hand, parties running the two state governments are not part of the NDA that is eyeing these states.

As he tries to wield the big stick, the PM may punish more officials to shake up the spine of the country’s most powerful class. That, however, would have to be done so as to keep the morale high to ensure good performance. For, a balanced approach alone can ensure what he calls less government, more governance.

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