Probe agencies have become political tools

If there is one area where the NDA government has achieved success, it is in weaponizing the central investigating agencies to relentlessly go after the opposition leaders. The arrest of Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut and the relentless pursuit of Congress leaders like Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in recent days show that the BJP is increasingly using central agencies to target opposition leaders. There is a clear and systematic pattern of using probe agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to muzzle the voice of the opposition and intimidate them into submission. The allegations of disproportionate assets and PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) violations are among the most common charges slapped on the opposition politicians.

But those who defect to the BJP earn complete immunity and get to sleep soundly. Many Sena MLAs who are part of the current government in Maharashtra were pursued by central agencies prior to their joining hands with the BJP. The fact that the convictions in such cases have been as low as nine out of 1,569 cases during the decade proves that they are largely politically motivated. While it is nobody’s case that the hoarders of illegal wealth should not be touched, it is the political affiliation of the chosen targets and the way the ED and IT raids are executed that give rise to suspicion. Political vendetta appears to be the sole motive behind the recent spurt in ED raids. As a result, the credibility of the Enforcement Directorate and other agencies is at stake. Insulating the top investigating agencies from undue political influence forms an essential element of the much-needed police reforms in the country. However, the actions of the NDA government on this front have failed to inspire any such confidence. They are destroying the image of these probe agencies. People of the country are losing confidence in these agencies, which is not good for democracy.