New Delhi: A day after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) searched multiple premises in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi while investigating illegal mining in the state during the previous government’s tenure, former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said the agency is targeting opposition parties ahead of general elections.

“Samajwadi Party is making efforts to win maximum Lok Sabha seats. Those who want to stop us have the CBI with them. Once the Congress did CBI probe, and I was questioned. If the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is doing all this, the CBI will question me, I will answer (them). But, the people are ready to give an answer to the BJP," Yadav said.

The CBI is likely to summon Yadav and former Uttar Pradesh minister Gayatri Prajapati in the case, an official familiar with the development said.

On Saturday, CBI searched 14 locations including premises of senior IAS officers, across districts including Jalaun, Hamirpur and Lucknow, apart from Delhi.

The agency is investigating charges that public servants allowed illegal mining during 2012-16 and illegally renewed licences despite a ban by the National Green Tribunal on mining. It is alleged that the officers allowed theft of minerals, extorted money from lease holders and from drivers, the official cited above added.

The developments drew sharp reactions from opposition parties like Congress and SP even as BJP said the timing of the investigations had nothing to do with elections.

“Akhilesh Yadav cannot loot and now complain against investigation. You indulge in corruption and now law is taking its course. In 2016, Allahabad high court took cognizance of the matter and gave it to CBI. CBI does not work keeping in mind timing of elections or alliances," UP health minister Sidharth Nath Singh 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," said Kapil Sibal, former Union minister and senior Congress leader.

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