Hours after Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu declared that the CBI cannot conduct raids or investigations in his state without permission, his counterpart in West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, too has withdrawn the free pass or “general consent” to the country’s top investigation agency.
Rules for the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI say it has complete jurisdiction over Delhi but can enter other states with the “general consent” of their government. The West Bengal government had in 1989 given the CBI a general consent order.
Ms Banerjee had, earlier in the day, supported Chandrababu Naidu’s move. “Chandrababu Naidu has done the right thing in saying he wouldn’t allow CBI in his state. The BJP can be ‘note changer’, but it’s not a game changer,” she had said.
Andhra Pradesh government, announcing the withdrawal of the general consent, also empowered the state investigation agency with the CBI’s duties.
A “confidential” order withdrawing CBI’s free pass in Andhra Pradesh was issued on November 8, three months after the state government allowed the CBI to exercise its powers and jurisdiction in the state. The order was leaked out on Thursday.
In March, Chandrababu Naidu pulled out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance over demands for special status to Andhra Pradesh.
Recently, he also accused the centre of undermining the credibility of the CBI for its own gains. There is turmoil within the CBI with both its chief Alok Verma and the Number 2 office Rakesh Asthana accusing each other of corruption. Last month, in a midnight take-over, both officers were sent on compulsory leave by the government.
A spokesperson of Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party, Lanka Dinakar, told ANI, “This decision has been taken in the wake of incidents happening in CBI since last six months. It lost its independence due to the involvement of the Narendra Modi-led union government which is using CBI as a tool against political opponents using fabricated statements.”
Recent raids by income tax authorities on business establishments run by those close to the ruling Telugu Desam Party have embarrassed the chief minister.
The BJP called Chandrababu Naidu’s decision “a malafide exercise” to protect acts of corruption and financial embezzlement.
“The state government has cited recent happenings in the CBI as a lame excuse and a ruse to brazenly save the corrupt and extend political patronage to people and organisations involved in acts of corruption and criminality,” BJP Rajya Sabha member GVL Narasimha Rao said.
He said Trinamool leaders and the Gandhi family of the Congress were facing probe in “corruption” cases and it has led to a “convergence of their interests” with Mr Naidu.
With inputs from PTI