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23 politicians have got reprieve in corruption cases on joining BJP: Report

A newspaper investigation has revealed that with Opposition leaders switching to the ruling party, cases by central agencies have either halted or gone away completely

Workers arrange BJP flags ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, at the party office in Jammu, Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (PTI Photo)

Workers arrange BJP flags ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, at the party office in Jammu, Tuesday, April 2, 2024. (PTI Photo)

Abhijeet Kumar New Delhi

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As many as 23 prominent Opposition politicians who crossed over to the BJP since the time it came to power in 2014 have got reprieve from federal agencies investigating corruption cases against them, the ‘Indian Express’ reported on Wednesday.

As many as 10 Congress leaders joined the BJP, followed by 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, according to the newspaper. Two other Opposition leaders joined the BJP and investigations continue against them: Former Congress MP Jyoti Mirdha and former TDP MP Y S Chowdary

As many as 23 politicians have seen a notable reduction in scrutiny upon their political switch. As many as three cases have been closed, while 20 remain stagnant or inactive. Notably, six of these politicians joined the BJP just before the recent general elections.

Federal agencies’ investigations were concentrated in Maharashtra during the political upheaval in the state in 2022 and 2023. Most defectors switched their allegiance after the 2019 elections. For instance, in 2019, the Mumbai Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) registered an FIR against Ajit Pawar, Sharad Pawar and others, in a case of money laundering linked to alleged irregularities in Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) started probing the case based on the EOW complaint.

Later, the EOW filed a closure report in October 2020 when Ajit Pawar was part of the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, which was challenged by the ED subsequently. Eventually, the ED closed the file in March this year after he joined the NDA. The ED’s case against Pawar, based on the EOW action, has since been rendered infructuous, the report said.

Additionally, there exist cases that are open but without any progress in investigation. Since 2019, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has awaited sanctions from the Lok Sabha Speaker to prosecute West Bengal's Leader of Opposition, Suvendu Adhikari, who was a Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP when the Narada sting operation scandal broke out. Adhikari joined the BJP in 2020.

Furthermore, the legal proceedings against Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan are at a standstill, ‘Indian Express’ reported. Sarma faced CBI questioning and raids in 2014 regarding the Saradha chit fund scam, yet the case against him has stagnated since 2015, coinciding with his joining of 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.

Other notable defectors who got relief after switching parties include former NCP leader Praful Patel, Pratap Sarnaik of Shiv Sena, CM Ramesh of TDP, former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh’s son Raninder Singh, and Chhagan Bhujbal of NCP, among others.

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First Published: Apr 03 2024 | 2:52 PM IST

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