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Like CBI, 95% of ED Cases in NDA-II era Against Opposition

The Congress tops the list of key Opposition politicians in ED net at 24, followed by TMC at 19 and NCP at 11.
Fresh Raids by ED at 40 Locations as Part of Delhi Liquor Policy Probe

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Out of the total number of key politicians booked, arrested, raided or interrogated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule since 2014, 95% belong to the Opposition compared to 54% in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) era (2004-2014). 

An investigation by The Indian Express reveals that out of 121 prominent politicians who landed in the ED net during the NDA rule, 115 belonged to the Opposition compared to only 14 out of 26 key political leaders probed by the agency during the UPA era. 

In fact, more than 85% of 147 key politicians probed by the agency during the UPA-NDA rule combined in the last 18 years belonged to the Opposition. The list of political leaders being probed by ED since 2004 is on indianexpress.com

An analysis of the ED cases registered against Opposition politicians since 2014 shows that the maximum belonged to Congress (24), TMC (19), NCP (11), Shiv Sena (8), DMK (6), BJD (6), RJD (5), BSP (5), SP (5), TDP (5), AAP (3), INLD (3), YSRCP (3), CPM (2), NC (2), PDP (2), Ind (2), AIADMK (1), MNS (1), SBSP (1) and TRS (1).

The Gandhi family has often faced the ED’s wrath with the agency registering cases against Wayanad (Kerala) Lok Sabha member Rahul Gandhi and his mother and Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi in the National Herald case and raiding a company linked to her son-in-law Robert Vadra and questioning him several times in a money laundering case.

Former Union finance minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti were also quizzed by the ED in connection with the Aircel Maxis case, which resulted in the INX Media case and the ‘bribes for visa’ case against them. 

Denying “political bias” against the Opposition, an agency official told The Indian Express, “The ED is the last agency you can accuse of political bias as it cannot register cases on its own. Only after a politician is booked by a state police or any Central agency, can the ED register a case of money laundering.” 

Claiming that the ED is “also probing many BJP politicians”, the official said, “A fresh case against Gali Janardhan Reddy was initiated after the Modi government came to power.” 

Besides, the agency registers cases after “proper scrutiny,” the official said adding that “all our charge sheets are being taken cognisance of by the courts. The accused are unable to secure bail because courts are not convinced of their innocence”.

The ED, like the CBI, has also been accused of going slow on cases against Opposition politicians who join the BJP. For example, former Congress member and current Assam chief minister (CM) Himanta Biswa Sarma was probed by the CBI and the ED in 2014 and 2015 over the Saradha chit fund scam. However, the case didn’t progress after he joined the BJP.

Similarly, former TMC leaders Suvendu Adhikari and Mukul Roy were under the ED and CBI scanner in the Narada sting operation case but the cases didn’t progress after they joined the BJP before last year’s West Bengal election. Roy returned to the TMC later.

Besides, relatives of key politicians accused of corruption and money laundering have also faced the ED’s heat during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term. 

At least, six relatives and family members of key Congress politicians, including Kamal Nath, Captain Amarinder Singh and the Gandhi family, are being probed. Amarinder Singh joined the BJP on Monday. Kerala CPI(M) leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son is also being investigated. 

Other senior Opposition politicians being probed include DK Shivakumar from Karnataka; former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda; former Rajya Sabha member and Sonia’s key aide Ahmed Patel; TMC members, including West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee; NCP leaders Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar, Anil Deshmukh, Nawab Malik and Praful Patel; Shiv Sena leaders Sanjay Raut and Anil Parab; and former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad and his family. 

The massive jump in the number of ED cases is mainly due to the stringent Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, which was amended in 2005 with the introduction of strict bail conditions, powers to arrest, attach properties and assets of the accused and make a statement recorded before an investigating officer admissible in a court as evidence.

From 112 ED searches in money laundering cases during the UPA era, the number rocketed by 26 times to 2,974 searches after 2014, according to the information provided by the finance ministry to the Lok Sabha in March. 

Similarly, the number of prosecution complaints jumped by nearly eight times from 104 in the same period to 839 after 2014. The value of the assets attached by the ED during the UPA rule shot up from Rs 5,346 crore to Rs 95,432 crore in the last eight years. 

When a rebellion jolted the Shiv Sena in June, the agency summoned Rajya Sabha Raut, who had alleged in February that he was threatened with ED action if he did not help topple the Maharashtra government. 

In a letter addressed to the Rajya Sabha chairman, Raut wrote: “I was even warned that apart from me, two other senior ministers in the cabinet in the state of Maharashtra as well as two senior leaders in Maharashtra would also be sent behind the bars under the PMLA Act.”

Five BJP politicians, including Karnataka mining baron Reddy and former Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje Scindia’s son Dushyant Singh, are also being investigated by the ED.

During the UPA rule, prominent BJP politicians probed by the ED included Reddy; Laxmikant Sharma (Vyapam case); former Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa, TMC politicians Sudip Bandopadhyay (Rose Valley chit fund case), Kunal Ghosh, Srinjoy Bose, Madan Mitra, Arpita Ghosh, Mukul Roy and Tapas Paul (Saradha case).

Though the ED also acted against Congress politicians and allies, including former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan (Adarsh housing case); Suresh Kalmadi (Commonwealth Games case); Naveen Jindal (coal blocks case); DMK’s A Raja and Kanimozhi (2G case); and Dayanidhi Maran and Kalanithi Maran (Aircel-Maxis case).

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