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Leaving the opposition in tatters

Posted in Featured, View Point

Published on June 25, 2024 with No Comments

The ball has been set rolling for the election in the largest democracy of the world with polls for the Lok Sabha now scheduled for seven stages in India, spread over 10 weeks!

The ruling party had started preparing for the elections way back. In a subtle way by skilfully weaking the opposition without any fighting. In Maharashtra that sends 48 Members of the Parliament , BJP was able to align MLAs of Udhav Thackeray led Shiv Sena and Sharad Pawar led Nationalist Congress Party. Both these parties now stand vertically divided and have lost their party symbols to the rivals from within the party. By doing so, BJP has left these two opposition parties in tatters.

In an well orchestrated manner, the main opposition party the Congress Party has been made skint. Rahul Gandhi, the highest-profile leader in the opposition Congress, says his party has been “crippled” by Modi’s government with tax demands that have led to the freezing of its bank accounts.  “Our entire financial identity has been erased,” said Gandhi, 53, the scion of the family that dominated Indian politics for decades after independence. “We have no money to campaign, we cannot support our candidates. Our ability to fight elections has been damaged.” A part of the Congress’s bank accounts were frozen last month pending a tax case that dates back to 2018-19. Earlier this month, a tax tribunal dismissed its appeal to pause the recovery of 1.35bn rupees ($16.32m) in income tax from its bank accounts.

Leaving Congress with no money to contest the elections, the next in line was the Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Supremo Arvind Kejriwal. Kejriwal has won three consecutive elections for Delhi Vidhan Sabha, his party is the ruling party in Punjab and won five seats in Gujarat. Also, as his party is aligned with Congress, he became a bigger threat to Prime Minister Modi’s aspirations. The Delhi Excise policy case, in which Mr. Kejriwal has been arrested, was registered by the CBI in August 2022, based on which the ED launched its money laundering probe. Several other AAP leaders are in jail — Manish Sisodia from February 2023, and Sanjay Singh from October 2023. If the ED had evidence of corruption, it should have taken the case to trial on a war footing. Keeping the accused in jail, while investigators continue their investigation and every time the accused applies for bail, an additional supplementary chargesheet is filed in order to keep them in jail.

The ED, the most powerful of the federal agencies, can search and arrest without warrant. It has summoned, questioned or raided nearly 150 politicians from the opposition since Prime Minsiter Modi took power in 2014 drawing criticism it has become a weapon of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party to cull political opponents. Of the opposition politicians in the scrutiny of the ED, at least a dozen have switched allegiance to the BJP or its alliance in recent years, including three in the past month.

Arrests of political opponents, freezing of bank accounts is being seen as selective enforcement of the law and impairs public confidence in democracy itself. As Indians have now started realising the democratic politics of the country can be brought to a standstill by central agencies.

While on one hand, Prime Minister claims that his party would bag 400 seats out of 543, and on the other he seems nervous and too eager to weaken the opposition parties. Perhaps if a level playing field is allowed, his dream of 400 seats may not come true, and hence leaving the opposition parties in tatters is one of the brightest strategy for the ruling party to fulfil its dreams.








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