CBI raid on Stalin's house: How Congress burnt its hands once more

Whatever the Congress' motives were - if at all there were any - behind orchestrating the raids on DMK president Stalin's properties, they have just cast a long shadow on the party's coalition future.

Allegations that the raid was instituted to avenge the DMK pullout and send the Samajwadi Party a veiled warning about the consequences of taking off support, are flying thick and fast. Like are questions about the dynamics of the country's most respected investigative agency - the CBI. Effectively, Congress seems to have just planted itself more deeply into the much of coalition politics.

 CBI raid on Stalins house: How Congress burnt its hands once more

Stalin and Chidambaram in happier times. AFP.

The timing of the raids - twenty fours hours after the DMK ministers submitted their resignation and just before the Samajwadi Party's Parliamentary meet got underway - have fanned the allegations further.

While one can't be too sure about the what and who prompted the CBI raids, the several twists and turns in the series of events throw up several theories - of the conspiratorial kind.

The first twist in the story came when Finance Minister P Chidambaram spoke to the media and said that he strongly disapproved CBI's action . "I don't interfere with any other department's functioning but this is not desirable," he told the media. He added that he has conveyed his sentiments to the concerned minister V Narayanasamy. Following which he expressed apprehension of the incident being misinterpreted in the political circles.

Prior to this, senior DMK leader TR Baalu had said that the raids were a clear case of vendetta against the party and warned the Congress-led government against 'playing with fire'.

Presumably, it was Chidambaram's strong disapproval that made the CBI beat a hasty retreat from Stalin's house in Chennai. However, the case throws up several uncomfortable questions about the much-hyped 'autonomy' enjoyed by the investigative agency.

It is still unclear as to who ordered the raids across 19 properties and under whose directions the CBI stopped its procedures. Why, in the first place, did the CBI conduct raids when neither Stalin nor his son were named the duty evasion in imported cars case? How did the CBI get involved in a case which should ideally be handled by the DRI (Department of Revenue Intelligence)? Since it came back with literally nothing after an hour-long search, can we trust the neutrality and competence of the agency anymore?

Two other factors have to be taken into account too. Chidambaram represents the Shivganga constituency in Tamil Nadu and can't afford to ignore the sentiments of his constituency. It has been proven in the past that the electorate is swung drastically by emotions and had the finance minister not spoken out against the raid, his sympathy for the Tamil cause would be been questioned. Something that would have implications on consequent polls.

The DRI being directly under the finance ministry, there were more reasons for the Opposition to suggest that it was on his behest that the raids were conducted. The DMK's has positioned its pullout from the UPA on an issue very close to Tamil sentiments, irrespective of political affiliations.

Chidambaram is already in a delicate space following the Centre's position on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. Therefore, in an unprecedented display of dismay, Chidambaram rapped another arm of the government he is a part of.

His public statement might have appeased DMK to some extent. Following his reaction. Karunanidhi said "If the Central Minister says they were not aware of the CBI raids on M.K. Stalin, we have reasons to believe them. It may or may not be a case of political vendetta."

The Minister of Personnel, in-charge for CBI, V Narayanswamy represents Puducherry constituency. The ever so vocal minister for once chose to stay mum on the subject.

BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said “If any DMK leader has committed graft it must be investigated. But for nine years there has been no raid. Then, why conduct one just 24 hours after the DMK pulled out of the UPA government? Shall we assume that now the CBI will drive Mulayam and Mayawati?"

However, the CBI raid on the DMK president's House stole the thunder off SP's Parliamentary meet. While no SP MP has come out and issued a public statement about the outcome of the meet, it has been learn from sources that the party has toned down. Also, they have stopped demanding that Beni Prasad Verma resign.

Though the party later joined the chorus against the misuse of the CBI, it didn't quite clear its stand on the Beni issue.

On one hand Mulayam Singh Yadav could have been genuinely been appeased by the Congress' apologies, on the other hand it is a well known fact that he has bowed under threats of the Congress several times in the past. The SP chief, as is known in the political circles, stays disturbed by the allegations of disproportionate assets against him and his family.

It's difficult to say what the CBI might have achieved today, but the Congress, definitely was successful in hammering another nail into its coffin.

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Updated Date: Mar 21, 2013 15:18:20 IST