- Former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav may be probed in sand mining scam
- He'll cooperate, but these raids are politically driven, Mr Yadav alleged
- The BJP said that it's a standard procedure and CBI is doing its job
As Uttar Pradesh's political rivals-turned-friends Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) appear to be in the final stages of sewing an alliance ahead of the national elections due in a few months, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is likely to have some unwanted visitors.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the illegal sand mining that took place between 2012 and 2016 in Uttar Pradesh, may examine Akhilesh Yadav's role as he was the chief minister during this period and held the mining department for a year, agency sources said.
"It's an old case, but I am ready to face the investigation," the former UP chief minister told reporters in Lucknow.
The ruling BJP is leaving behind the culture (of misusing the central investigative agencies) and it should be ready to face the same in the future, warned Mr Yadav.
"We are making efforts to win maximum Lok Sabha seats. Those who want to stop us, have the CBI with them. If the CBI wants to question me, I will answer (them). But the BJP must know that people are ready to give an answer to them," the SP chief said.
The reports that Akhilesh Yadav's role will be probed in the scam emerged after SP and BSP indicated their intent to join hands to counter the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.
Mr Yadav quipped that it was the Congress that had earlier sent the CBI and now the BJP, and he is ready to cooperate. "Now we have to tell the CBI as to how many seats we have distributed in the gathbandhan. I am happy that at least the BJP has shown its colours. Earlier, the Congress gave us the chance to meet the CBI, and this time it is the BJP, which has given us this opportunity."
Opposition parties have come out in support of the Samajwadi Party leader and claimed that the CBI investigation is in line with the alleged trend of using the central agencies against political opponents.
The Congress, which reports suggest has been left out of the alliance in UP by the SP-BSP, said the raids shouldn't come as a surprise.
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said, "Now that the reports of SP-BSP alliance have come, raids have started against Akhilesh Yadav. This was expected, whoever speaks against them (BJP) is raided, that's how this government is running."
The BJP, however, said that it's the standard procedure and the investigation agency is just doing its job.
The CBI had conducted searches at 14 locations in UP and Delhi on Saturday in connection with its First Information Report or FIR against 11 people.
Mr Yadav, who was the chief minister between 2012 and 2017, held the mining portfolio between 2012 and 2013. He was succeeded by Gayatri Prajapati, who was arrested in 2017 following a complaint of rape by a woman residing in Chitrakoot.