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23 Opposition leaders found reprieve from corruption cases after joining BJP since 2014: Report

The Indian Express report claimed that 23 opposition politicians who switched to the BJP since 2014 have faced reduced scrutiny from federal investigative agencies regarding corruption cases. Among them were leaders from various parties, including Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena, TMC, TDP, SP, and YSRCP.

23 Opposition leaders found reprieve from corruption cases after joining BJP: Report
First Published Apr 3, 2024, 3:33 PM IST

As many as 23 prominent opposition politicians who switched allegiance to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2014 have seen a notable reduction in scrutiny from federal investigative agencies probing corruption cases against them, the Indian Express reported on Wednesday. The report highlights that out of the 23 politicians who made the switch, 10 were from the Congress, four each from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena, three from Trinamool Congress (TMC), two from Telugu Desam Party (TDP), and one each from Samajwadi Party (SP) and YSRCP. 

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Additionally, two other opposition leaders who joined the BJP are still under investigation: former Congress MP Jyoti Mirdha and former TDP MP Y S Chowdary.

Among the politicians who switched parties, six did so just before the recent general elections. While investigations into three cases have been closed, 20 remain stagnant or inactive, indicating a significant decrease in the intensity of scrutiny after their political realignment. The concentration of federal agencies' investigations was notably seen in Maharashtra during the political turbulence in 2022 and 2023. Many defections occurred after the 2019 elections. 

The newspaper cited the example of Ajit Pawar, who, in 2019, was booked in a money laundering case by the Mumbai Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) in connection with alleged irregularities in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank. The subsequent probe by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was based on the EOW complaint.

The report claimed that when Ajit Pawar was part of the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, the EOW filed a closure report in October 2020. However, this closure report was challenged by the ED. Following Ajit Pawar's joining the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the ED eventually closed the case in March this year. As a result, the ED's case against Pawar, initiated based on the EOW's action, has become void.

Moreover, there are instances where cases remain open but have seen no progress in investigation. Since 2019, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been awaiting sanctions from the Lok Sabha Speaker to prosecute Suvendu Adhikari, who was a Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP during the Narada sting operation scandal. Adhikari joined the BJP in 2020.

Furthermore, legal proceedings against Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan have stalled. Sarma faced CBI questioning and raids in 2014 regarding the Saradha chit fund scam, but the case has seen no progress since 2015, coinciding with his joining the BJP. Similarly, Chavan joined the BJP in February this year amid a Supreme Court stay on proceedings by the CBI and ED in the Adarsh Housing case.

Several other notable defectors, including Praful Patel of NCP, Pratap Sarnaik of Shiv Sena, CM Ramesh of TDP, Raninder Singh (son of former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh), and Chhagan Bhujbal of NCP, have also found relief after switching parties, highlighting a trend of decreased legal scrutiny following political realignment.

Also Read: 'Only Rahul Gandhi is unemployed': Muslim youth slam Congress' 70 years of rule, hail PM Modi (WATCH)

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