Receiving widespread backlash from several opposition parties, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday revealed details about the role of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in 2013 Uttar Pradesh sand mining case. The agency claimed that Yadav, then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh had cleared 13 "illegal" mining leases on a single day, violating the 2012 e-tendering policy. The ongoing CBI investigation against the Samajwadi Party (SP) chief raked up a huge storm in Rajya Sabha, forcing an early adjournment of the House.
The development came after the SP chief and other opposition parties accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre of misusing the investigation agency for its political gains. To elaborate further, the CBI also said Yadav, who had been the mining minister of Uttar Pradesh between 2012 and 2013, had cleared a total of 14 "illegal" leases, of which 13 were cleared on February 17, 2013.
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow on Sunday, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister said the BJP was using the CBI as a tool for arm-twisting the opposition party leaders, some of whom are trying to forge an alliance against the ruling party.
"Now we have to tell the CBI as to how many seats we have distributed in the 'gathbandhan' (alliance). I am happy that at least the BJP has shown its colours. Earlier, the Congress gave us the chance to meet the CBI, and this time it is the BJP, which has given us this opportunity," Yadav was quoted as saying in the press brief.
"The Samajwadi Party is making efforts to win the maximum number of Lok?Sabha seats. Those who want to stop us, have the CBI with them. Once the Congress did CBI probe, and I was questioned. If the BJP is doing all this, the CBI will question me, I will answer (them). But, the people are ready to give an answer to the BJP," he added.
Yadav held the mining portfolio during 2012-13 and was succeeded by Gayatri Prajapati. Prajapati was arrested in 2017 following a complaint of rape by a woman residing in Chitrakoot.
Meanwhile reacting strong to the CBI action, BSP chief Mayawati dubbed the reports as "political animosity" of the ruling BJP and advised Yadav not to be "shaken by such gimmicks".
Condemning the CBI probe against Yadav, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "such politics and dictatorship cannot be allowed in India". "Where was this government in the last over four-and-a-half years? This (CBI) action comes at a time when elections are approaching," Azad added. The Congress leader further alleged that the investigation was a means to intimidate Mr Yadav and stop him from forming an alliance with Mayawati which would lead to the BJP's defeat in the state.
Taking to Twitter, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote, "In its last weeks in office, Modi govt shamelessly unleashing CBI on Akhilesh Yadav is a reminder to all that we must not forget what Modi's political opponents have faced during last five years. Time to throw out this dictatorial and undemocratic regime".
In its last weeks in office, Modi govt shamelessly unleashing CBI on @yadavakhilesh is a reminder to all that we must not forget what Modi's political opponents have faced during last five years. Time to throw out this dictatorial & undemocratic regime— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) January 7, 2019
The CBI on Saturday conducted searches at 14 locations across Uttar Pradesh, including the residences of IAS officer B Chandrakala, MLC Ramesh Kumar Mishra and Sanjay Dixit in connection with the multi-crore sand mining case. The agency had taken up the case on the instruction of the Allahabad High Court in 2016.