Accusing the government of misusing probe agencies to target opposition leaders in an effort to stall an alliance ahead of the 2019 polls, the Congress on Monday backed SP chief Akhilesh Yadav after it emerged the CBI may quiz him in an illegal mining case.
He also accused the BJP government of "misusing" probe agencies like the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax to target opposition leaders.
"We strongly condemn it (CBI's action against Yadav). Such politics and dictatorship cannot be allowed in India," Azad said.
He alleged that the BJP government did not initiate any action for over four-and-a- half years and suddenly acted against Yadav when it is about to end its tenure.
"Where was this government in the last over four-and-a-half years? This (CBI) action comes at a time when elections are approaching. They (BJP government) are trying to prevent an alliance so it may not cause BJP's defeat in the polls. He (Yadav) is being intimidated so he does not forge an alliance," he said.
In a democracy, forging an alliance depends on the desire of political parties in the polls, Azad said.
"The government did not work on women's security, farmers and other issues in four-and-a-half years, but it misused the Enforcement Directorate, CBI, NIA to intimidate opposition parties leaders, be it Congress, NCP, TMPs, DMK, Andhra Pradesh's leaders, Kashmir's political organisations...," Azad said.
Azad, who is also Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said he is apprehensive that the BJP government will target more opposition leaders by initiating action through probe agencies as the general elections approach.
Azad said opposition leaders had in the past united against former prime ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, but they did not "misuse" the government agencies like the present government is doing against opposition leaders.
"Whoever will forge alliance (in elections), cases will be registered against them. They (opposition leaders) will be intimidated through CBI, Income Tax," he alleged.
On Sunday, Yadav said he is ready to face the probe agency, but people are also ready to answer the BJP.
The CBI carried out searches at 14 locations Saturday in connection with its FIR against 11 persons, including IAS officer B Chandrakala, SP MLC Ramesh Kumar Mishra and Sanjay Dixit (who unsuccessfully contested the 2017 assembly election on a BSP ticket) to probe alleged illegal mining of minor minerals in Hamirpur district during 2012-16.
Yadav, who was the chief minister of the state between 2012 and 2017, held the mining portfolio during 2012-13, apparently bringing his role under scanner, according to the FIR.