New Delhi/Chennai/Patna: The premises of two top opposition leaders, P Chidambaram and Lalu Prasad, were on Tuesday raided by CBI and IT officials with Karti Chidambaram accused of getting pay-offs for helping a media company get FIPB clearance, while the former Bihar Chief Minister was accused of “benami” land deals — actions the opposition denounced as vendetta by the BJP-led central government.
The day began with raids by the Central Bureau of Investigation in New Delhi, Chennai, Gurugram and Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu, while the Income Tax raided 22 locations in Delhi and Gurugram on a number of premises said to be owned by Lalu and kin.
The CBI raided the residence of Chidambaram and his son Karti in Nungambakam in Chennai, after registering an FIR on Monday night in which it was alleged that his son could have benefited to the tune of Rs 3.5 crore for helping in the clearance of an FIPB proposal of media company INX Ltd when his father was at the helm in the North Block.
The CBI FIR alleged that invoices for approximately Rs 3.5 crore were raised by the INX Ltd in favour of companies in which Karti was having “sustainable interests” either directly or indirectly.
The FIPB clearance was given to Mumbai-based INX Media (now called 9X Media) when it was run by Peter and Indrani Mukherjea, and Chidambaram was then the Finance Minister.
The FIR does not mention the name of Chidambaram, though it states that he had cleared the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval for Rs 4.62 crore Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the FIPB meeting on May 18, 2007.
Both Chidambaram and his son denied there was any misconduct on their part and said the whole action was aimed at “muzzling” the voice of Chidambaram senior, who has been writing against the NDA government.
Karti said he had committed no crime and the case against him was foisted on account of political vendetta.
Chidambaram said FIPB clearance is given in hundreds of cases and there is no allegation against officials, who are members of the FIPB, or against him.
Besides Karti, those named in the FIR include INX Director Indrani Mukherjea and her husband Peter Mukherjea, both accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, and some unknown officials of the ministry.
In the other case, the Income Tax Department conducted raids at 22 places in and around Delhi in connection with alleged “benami” property deals allegedly to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore involving RJD chief Lalu Prasad.
Besides the Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo, the IT raids were also carried out on the premises of party MP P C Gupta’s residence as well as several businessmen and real estate agents in Delhi and Haryana’s Gurugram and Rewari.
The raids started around 3 am on Tuesday, in which over 100 officials were involved. — IANS