Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is on a roll. First, she proved all the Cassandras wrong with her spectacular victory in the assembly polls. And now, she has emerged from the shadow of the Taj Corridor scandal, arguably the low point in her political career, smelling of roses. UP Governor TV Rajeswar has refused sanction to prosecute Mayawati in the Rs 175 crore case that was initiated during her earlier stint as Chief Minister. The project proposed to set up shopping malls close to the Taj Mahal and divert the Yamuna to make way for development. Clearly, this project was ill-thought out and could have been disastrous for the fragile monument and the ecology of the river system. But having said that, it now transpires that there was not enough evidence for the CBI that was entrusted with the task of framing charges against the CM.
From the start of the case almost four years ago, Mayawati has been alleging that this was a political conspiracy against her. But such is UP politics that with each new government, we witness a round of bloodletting. The move against Mayawati was seen as part of this. It now transpires that the whole case was built around a small file noting by the principal secretary who served under Mayawati at that time to the effect that she had approved the scheme. The official has since chopped and changed his stand. It is in this context that the Additional Solicitor-General has argued against pursuing the case and this is what the Governor has done. Now many will argue that the timing of Mayawati being let off the hook is a bit odd, what with the presidential elections round the corner. The BSP supremo will play a crucial role in who will be the next incumbent in Rashtrapati Bhavan. But none of this detracts from the fact that the CBI did not do its homework properly. Nor for that matter did the Central Vigilance Commissioner, who felt that there was enough evidence for the CBI to prosecute Mayawati.
Four years is a long time to waste on a non-case and that too at enormous cost to the taxpayer. Surely, the CBI could have come up with a better case, one that could withstand rigorous legal scrutiny. It is meant to be the premier investigative agency in the country and as such it must not be seen to be lax and shoddy in its work. Already, the CBI’s credibility has been questioned by several quarters. It has often been suggested that it is a tool that politicians use to harass rivals. But with cases it has taken years to put together falling apart, the very efficacy of such an agency is in doubt. Of course, the Governor’s decision is open to judicial review. But the CBI has not covered itself in glory in this case. And, naturally, Mayawati has had the last laugh.