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Pre-poll IT raids on Akhilesh cronies were straight out of Cong playbook

 The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), once a celebrated probe agency, is now considered slow, tardy and ineffective.

Pre-poll IT raids on Akhilesh cronies were straight out of Cong playbook

In recent years, the CBI has failed to make the desired impact on the target and associates.

The Income Tax and Enforcement Directorate are the new favourites. They create the right buzz, hit the target hard and make an impact on the common man.

The trend actually began during the Manmohan Singh regime when the then ruling party, the Congress, used the central agencies, particularly the CBI, to rein in allies like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati.

At the turn of the century, Mulayam Singh and Mayawati were booked in cases of disproportionate assets.

Both the cases are still on' and are now used occasionally to force these parties into submission.

Mayawati's brother Anand Kumar is sometimes summoned for interrogation and Vishwanath Chaturvedi, once a Youth Congress leader and a complainant against Mulayam Singh Yadav, keeps the case alive by shooting off reminders' in court.

As a senior Supreme Court lawyer puts it, "The government does not want closure of these cases because it suits them to keep them alive'. Both the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party are parties on a leash because of these cases and will remain so."

The IT and ED have been used increasingly against political rivals' in Uttar Pradesh, particularly the Samajwadi Party, on the eve of assembly elections.

The Income Tax Department in early January conducted raids at the properties of real estate company ACE Group and its promoter Ajay Chaudhary in Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida and Agra.

According to reports, Chaudhary is said to be close to Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav.

I-T department officials conducted raids at the premises of all ongoing projects of the ACE Group. The raids had started at the Noida Sector 126 corporate offices of the organisation and were spread over 30 locations related to Ajay Chaudhary.

Chaudhary was said to be a financial source' of the SP and the significance of the raids on election eve is not entirely lost.

In December, the premises of several SP leaders and associates like Manoj Yadav in Agra, Neetu Yadav a.k.a Gajendra Yadav in Lucknow were raided by the IT sleuths.

Earlier, the Income Tax department from Varanasi had raided the residence of Rajeev Rai in the Sahadatpura area of Mau district in eastern UP. Rajeev Rai is the secretary and spokesperson of the Samajwadi Party.

The most talked about raids, however, were on perfume baron Piyush Jain from Kannauj, and had resulted in the seizure of hundreds of crores of rupees in cash.

The BJP went to town claiming that the perfumer was a Samajwadi Party financier.

Piyush Jain was arrested on charges of tax evasion in December 2021. During a series of raids on the premises owned by him, over Rs 257 crore in cash as well as gold and silver was recovered. The money was allegedly linked to the dispatch of goods on fake invoices and without e-way bills by a goods transporter.

The Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI), Ahmedabad recovered Rs 10 crore in cash from his perfume factory and residence in Kannauj district of Uttar Pradesh. Unaccounted sandalwood oil and perfumes worth crores of rupees were also seized from Jain's factory.

According to the Chairman of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, this was the biggest seizure by the agency in its history.

Top BJP leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi had claimed in their election speeches that the itr' (perfume) had developed a bad smell and money was coming out of walls.

Akhilesh Yadav, meanwhile, said that the raids on Piyush Jain was a case of mistaken identity.

"The IT people got confused between Piyush Jain who is a BJP supporter and Pushpraj Jain Pampi who is with Samajwadi Party. Both are perfumers and live in the same locality in Kannauj and have similar sounding names. The government wanted to target me but they have targeted their own man," he said in a widely publicised press conference.

Within a matter of hours, Pushpraj Jain Pampi was also subjected to raids.

Akhilesh Yadav has been alleging that the BJP government in the Centre and UP had targeted him and his party ahead of the assembly elections because they were scared to lose'.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had responded to those allegations with a Chor Ki Dadhi Main Tinka' (the thief makes himself known) jibe.

Senior SP leader Mohd Azam Khan's family is the latest on the ED list.

His son Abdullah Azam is being summoned on a daily basis by ED officials and is subjected to long hours of questioning.

Azam Khan was released from jail in May this year after 27 months after being booked in 89 cases related to book theft, buffalo theft, hen theft, statue theft, power theft, land grabbing and land encroachment.

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