A parrot not only caged but maimed

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]nother flashpoint is developing in the ties between the Modi government and the Opposition-ruled states over the ban on CBI to enter their respective territories. The first such move was initiated by Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu by withdrawing the ‘general consent’ for the central investigation agency to probe cases in his state, which was promptly followed by Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has supported the decision and perhaps more states like Kerala may follow suit. Henceforth, no CBI probe would be possible in these states without the consent of the state governments.

This will make it impossible for the Centre to ‘arm-twist’ state politicians by threatening to unleash CBI on them, which is an accepted norm. It is widely believed that the Modi government has used the tactics to keep BSP leader Mayawati under a tight leash as it may be in possession of incriminating evidences against her. In fact, political observers believe that Mayawati’s lukewarm attitude towards Opposition unity may be the result of such a strategy on the part of the BJP. With Chandrababu Naidu taking up a self-appointed king-maker role, it is only natural that he wants to pre-empt the Centre from making any such move against him. Similarly, the Narada and Sharada scams have been hanging over Mamata’s head and hence her decision to emulate Naidu. Henceforth, CBI can take up cases in these states only on the orders of courts.

The unprecedented move has invited immediate condemnation by the BJP, with Union finance minister Arun Jaitley taunting Naidu and Mamata that they are shutting out CBI because ‘they have a lot to hide’ and asserting that they can’t use sovereignty as cover for corruption. While the Centre has a point to make, the goings-on in the so-called premier investigating agency do not lend the CBI any credibility whatsoever. Struggling to keep its own house in order, the agency has become a butt of ridicule, with its top brass embroiled in a most unseemly controversy in which its top officers are accusing each other of accepting bribes to hush up high-profile cases. So grotesque is the situation that the number-one books the number-two for corruption and vice versa. As such, when the likes of Naidu and Mamata, both not particularly averse to making money through means that may not be entirely square and fair, flash the red flag, it would raise few eyebrows.

CBI has in its current shape has lost all legitimacy. It is an agency open to all kinds of abuse, including from those who are supposed to be protectors of its integrity. ‘Caged parrot’ has become a cliché in reference to CBI. The reality is that the parrot is not only caged, it has been maimed to the extent that it can’t even fly.